Revisiting the X-Files, Part 1: The First Step Into the Shadows

So, we’re dealing with an iconic 1990s TV series here, in the pilot episode of which (Pilot) we have a young woman showing up dead on the outskirts of a small woodland town in the Pacific Northwest of the US. Thanks to parallels with a number of deaths elsewhere, the FBI become involved, represented in part by a handsome agent who reveals slightly eccentric habits and even more eccentric beliefs. The death turns out to be part of a web of local intrigue that belies the bucolic charm of the town, and there’s frequent hints than higher powers are involved in all this.

This is not, despite all of the above, Twin Peaks; instead we’re dealing with the start of The X-Files, lovingly crafted by Chris Carter, though he’s letting his Peaks fan flag fly here. The first episode sets the formula for most of the series’ “mythology” episodes: Mulder and Scully zoot about uncovering evidence of creepy alien activity, Mulder buys into the supernatural interpretation of events, Scully resists it but increasingly finds herself coming around to Mulder’s point of view step by baby step, they discover some incontrovertible evidence that something outright fuckabooie is going on but the sinister government conspiracy as represented by the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) manages to destroy the evidence yet again.

That’s a formula we’ll see repeated over and over during the run of the series, with incremental bits of additional motifs and recurring thingamuffins creeping in here and there to give the impression that we’re getting somewhere, but a quarter-century later and we all know goddamn well that it isn’t really going anywhere impressive – and with Gillian Anderson comprehensively fed up of the whole thing and no longer willing to come back after the mytharc episodes in 2018’s season 11 bombed, it looks like short of a full reboot we’ve had all the X-Files we’re ever going to get. (Conveniently, nice blu-ray sets of the TV episodes are widely available at a reasonable price, and the HD-remastered episodes are available on iTunes and other platforms at that.)

In some respects, knowing that the overarching plot is a bit of a bridge to nowhere makes it substantially easier to rewatch the series now; it liberates you from the burden of actually investing too deeply in the mythology episodes, allowing you to enjoy the characterisation and scenery-chewing and the pleasant visuals on offer. If Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny don’t do it for you, then at least there’s usually some fascinating scenery shots to deal with and a plethora of guest actors whose performances you can enjoy. Personally, Gillian Anderson has done it for me for about as long as I’ve been physiologically aware that certain people can do it for me.

On top of that, between them the mythology episodes only count for 71 of the series’ 220 episodes (counting the two movies as special episodes) – about a third, and on top of that the proportion goes up over the course of the show’s original run. The rest are the celebrated mystery-of-the-week episodes which served to remind us that there’s more to Mulder and Scully’s world than is dreamed of by their philosophy or accounted for by the Cigarette Smoking Man’s conspiracies, and indeed for many viewers (including myself) constituted the actual red meat of the series, the sheer range of possibilities when it came to what our favourite FBI duo might encounter being so much broader. Precisely because they didn’t limit themselves to the alien mythology of the show (instead adopting a cosmological outlook that the world is impossibly weird and more or less anything may be possible under the right circumstances), the mystery-of-the-week episodes end up being more mysterious, unpredictable, and scary than the mythology episodes, which end up becoming increasingly predictable due to the accumulating baggage weighing the mythology down.

Of course, one of the first things we remember about The X-Files when we think of it is the whole Mulder/Scully relationship, which tends to be recalled as a drawn-out will-they-won’t-they smouldering tension sort of thing. However, on review I think we might have all been a bit naive there. Within the first episode we have Scully rushing to Mulder’s motel room and stripping down to her underwear, and now, granted, there’s plot-related reasons for that but let’s not pretend that the whole extremely gradual will-they-won’t-they chemistry was actually all that gradual, at least to begin with. In fact, it’s arguably easiest to interpret the duo as banging frequently from the get-go, the coyness around their relationship being less to do with them not actually having banged yet and more about the fact that the sheer passionate intensity of their banging would have been way too much for US network television at the time. (The atmosphere of the scene immediately following the underwear moment is decidedly postcoital in my view.)

Regardless of what you think about its pacing and where it eventually went, you have to hand it to the Mulder/Scully romance: it really is one of the better-engineered setups for a romance in popular television, particularly of its vintage. I think part of the reason it works is that rather than having a designated protagonist that the audience is supposed to identify with and a designated love interest whose individual personhood is secondary to their status as a prize for the protagonist, both Mulder and Scully are protagonists in their own right, both in the show in general and in respect of the relationship. This already puts it streets ahead of legions of other onscreen romances, and the mutual respect between the two lives up to that.

On top of that, whether you identify with Mulder or Scully, there’s a narrative here which in each case caters to a particular fantasy. Let’s say you’re Mulder: you’re beavering away in the basement on this cool hobby of yours when Gillian fuckin’ Anderson walks in. There’s some initial prickliness when you suspect she’s here to make light of your interests, but you actually find that sharing your passions with her gives you a new appreciation of them and eventually she ends up conceding the importance of your hobby and getting in on it herself. Crucially, she’s someone you can emotionally open up to and will take you seriously when you do so, but she’s also willing to challenge you and keep you on your toes, which of course gives you an opportunity to explain your ideas to her, which you enjoy doing not least because you like the cut and thrust of debate when she points out holes in your theory. For many – especially a certain brand of geek boy (perhaps a fake one who was 11 when this stuff debuted), that’s an amazing proposition.

Welcome to Mulder’s man-cave, Scully.

Now let’s turn that around and identify with Scully instead for a moment. You like to think you’re basically a rational person, but there’s clearly something you’re looking for in life above and beyond merely meeting material needs – hence you joining the FBI in the first place. (Scully got a medical degree and was expected to become a regular doctor before she took that sideways step.) In the course of work you end up working alongside David fuckin’ Duchovny. He seems a bit mumbly and snarky, and initially it seems like he’s got this tendency to mansplain, but rather than getting pissy when you raise questions he engages with your points and respects your skills and expertise. In the course of working with him you come to realise the legitimacy of his work, and also realise that both of you are essentially after the same thing, you just have different perspectives on it, and the two perspectives together enrich the search. Your interactions also cause him to open up emotionally and softens his initially-prickly exterior. Again, there’s swathes of people that this would appeal to.

You can extend this to their relationship with outsiders. In Squeeze, the first episode which really shows what their FBI peers really think of the X-Files Division, the show nicely frames it as a sort of “nerds/outsiders vs. popular normies” sort of deal in the way that Mulder and Scully’s FBI peers sneer at them. As well as probably increasing the show’s appeal among audience members who empathise with all that, this sets up a nice bit where Scully yet again demonstrates that she actually is far more willing to hear out Mulder’s theories than others, her peers are dickish about it, and Mulder needles them for it. When the duo are talking about it afterwards Scully asks if Mulder’s being “territorial” with her, and he admits that he was a bit, but only because she’d shown willingness to go along with him on the journey to the truth even if she didn’t agree with his vision of what the destination was, and – crucially – that he’d be entirely fine with it if she decided she needed to transfer out for the sake of her career. Having been given that clear opportunity to leave if she wants, Scully stays because ultimately, the hunt for the truth is what’s important to her. It’s an early instance of their “us against the world” thing, but what’s nice about it is that it’s founded on a basic assumption that each of them is their own person and it’s important that Scully have the freedom to choose to go down the rabbithole rather than being dragged down there kicking and screaming.

(That said, I do wonder whether the real FBI is nearly as parochial and snooty about offbeat interests as it’s depicted here. I reckon you probably need to be a bit of a true crime nerd to land a job there, and my suspicion is that there aren’t that many true crime nerds who aren’t also nerds of some other stripe.)

One of the interesting things about Mulder and Scully’s relationship is that, rather than being aggressively male-coded and female-coded, in a lot of respects you could flip Mulder and/or Scully’s genders and their characterisation still works just fine. In terms of their academic backgrounds Scully is the one with the STEM training whilst Mulder went for psychology; lazier, more unthinkingly sexist writers would have flipped those. More than that, I could totally imagine Dude-Scully getting all Dick Dawkins’ on Mulder’s beliefs, or Fem-Mulder being given the “looks nerdy until she takes her glasses off and let her hair down” treatment. I don’t think either of things would have been improvements, mind, but equally I think it’s a notable thing about the way they are written. Both the major points of contrast and the common ground between them is framed in a way which very much isn’t rooted in traditional assumptions about gender roles in relationships, at least at the start, and that’s pretty good going for a show from this era.

They’d drop the ball eventually, of course – with extensive childbirth-and-pregnancy plots in particular – but when a show runs as long as The X-Files does, sooner or later most of its balls will get dropped, and it remains impressive to me that they actually managed to pick up the ball here to begin with.

They show their first signs of fumbling it in The Jersey Devil, which clumsily uses a feral human mother’s protectiveness of her children to make some sort of comment about Scully’s breeding intentions. As the fifth episode of the season, it’s notable both for being the first episode to have a clearly non-paranormal basis for its events and for being the first to be flat-out kind of bad; as well as the annoying insistence that childbirth is an essential feature of being a woman and you’re incomplete without babies, it also separates Mulder and Scully for much of the episode, and whilst getting some insight into them individually does help make them feel realler, at the same time it exposes just how much you lose when you split up the double act. Combine this with some decidedly bland direction and a rather lightweight tone compared to the preceding four episodes – and the general mass of what’s yet to come in the show – and the episode feels less like authentic X-Files and more like a daytime soap opera’s gentle X-Files spoof.

Another instance of dropping the ball is the pyrokinesis-themed tripefest Fire, in which amidst horribly executed dialogue, absurdly overegged British accents, and a cartoonish American media-informed understanding of the Northern Ireland conflict we meet an old flame of Mulder’s from his days at Oxford and Scully acts all jealous, putting paid to the idea that there was ever anything subtle about the will they/won’t they tension in the series – or, for that matter, that The X-Files was at all immune to the sort of simplistic “women be jealous of men’s romantic histories” nonsense that plagues so much media.

It’s an entire episode revolving around how David Duchovny is so studly that random women from his old student days engineer complex mind games in order to get him vulnerable to their wiles, because a decade later they’re still craving a tall glass of Duchovny, combined with a whole bunch of generic creeping and some of the least subtle or interesting treatments of the paranormal the series has ever offered, and then offered up with a side order of Mulder being sad because his fire phobia makes him unable to be badass and allows a smirking jerk to look like a big-time hero instead of him – but hey, at least Scully is willing to tend to him when everyone else is fawning over that mean ol’ jock. It’s kind of risible when you take it apart.

When PUA “peacocking” goes too far.

Another cliche about The X-Files is how Scully’s scepticism eventually hit the point where it stopped being a logical position based on the evidence she had encountered and instead became an aggravating tendency to stick her head in the sand, despite what she had witnessed and what the evidence indicated – in other words, the series hit the point where, once you applied Occam’s Razor to what Mulder and Scully had discovered, the balance of evidence was actually in favour of the supernatural because any natural explanation for what they’d encountered would be absurdly convoluted, if not impossible, and as such Scully went from being the voice of rationality to becoming an irrational denialist.

Again, in the early series this is much less the case – if, indeed, it ever was (we’ll see). In Deep Throat, the second episode, Scully is very dismissive about Mulder’s theory, but she has every reason to do so because Mulder’s theory is completely baseless – he has no actual hard evidence of extraterrestrial involvement in what’s going on at all, and comes up with his theory based on grainy second-hand copies of amateur photos of UFOs.

(A little aside about Deep Throat, by the way: when the titular informant pops up in the episode I could have sworn he was played by John Noble, who of course played a much more prominent role in J.J. Abrams’ X-Files-alike Fringe. It isn’t him – it’s Jerry Hardin, but the resemblance is uncanny.)

Here we see an important role played by Scully’s objections: by pointing out the deficiencies of the evidence she and Mulder have gathered, she reminds Mulder (and the viewer) of what they’d need to actually prove what’s going on and solve the case, which is a different standard of evidence than that required to merely come up with a close guess as to what the truth is. Reminding the viewer that the duo can’t just go to their superiors or the media or whoever and blow the conspiracy wide open with the evidence they have to hand remains important and useful even once Scully believes in the conspiracy.

This, in fact, is probably why Chris Carter waited as long as he did to soften Scully’s sceptical stance: if she just gave in and accepted Mulder’s worldview, she would lose her capacity to ask the questions which need to be answered to keep the viewers up to speed, and it’d be that much harder to draw that crucial line in the reader’s mind between what Mulder and Scully know and what they can prove.

Perhaps the most important episode in this season is Squeeze. Sure, the preceding two episodes introduced to the X-Files mythology arc – but it’s Squeeze which was the first mystery-of-the-week episode, and set the pattern for those that followed. It’s basically a mashup of a serial killer story and a vampire story, with our stretchy, squeezey, liver-eating, 30-year-hibernation-cycle-enjoying antagonist Eugene Tooms being a very unusual sort of vampire when it gets down to it.

To a certain extent it shows the influence of Silence of the Lambs (we are not told whether Tooms enjoyed fava beans and chianti with his victims’ livers), but it would be unsurprising if it were the case, but the episode is undeniably influential in its own right, both when it came to future mystery-of-the-week episodes of the series (in fact, it’s one of the few of those to get a fully-fledged sequel, Tooms) and to an extent which reached beyond The X-Files itself. (I’m 99% sure that the weird activity/dormancy cycle of the Creeper in the Jeepers Creepers series is inspired by Tooms’ life cycle, for instance.)

On the whole, the episode takes a dark, grimy style of horror and puts it into a mainstream network television context not used to such darkness, and pulls it off amazingly. There’s actually only one really prominent effects shot showing Tooms’ capabilities – a shot down a chimney as he does a grim sort of Santa Claus act – and once again, it ends up being pretty effective. The whole Tooms situation is so delightfully bizarre that it really quickly establishes that the X-Files universe is a much stranger and less predictable place than you might think if you only watched the mythology episodes (note: you don’t want to only watch the mythology episodes), and it’s notable that once again, Scully actually admits the truth of what’s going on by the end.

It’s also deliciously horrifying. Consider Tooms plucking Scully’s necklace from about her neck, his weird little collection of souvenirs, his disgusting nest, and most of all, the way at the end of the episode he just calmly licks shreds of newspaper and tosses them into the corner of his cell to build his new nest. Doug Hutchison certainly has a way of projecting creepiness, though given that he married a 16-year-old when he himself was 50 maybe that’s just his way.

(To avert the inevitable complaints: no, I have nothing against age gap relationships. I have plenty against age gap relationships where one of the participants is that young, and was presumably younger when the relationship was kindled. A 36 year old marrying a 70 year old has lived more than long enough to not just become an adult, but also to establish themselves in the world – or at least earn a certain level of wisdom and insight from their struggles to do so if they haven’t – and surely knows what they’re getting into. A 26 year old marrying a 60 year old may be taking a bit of a risk, but people in their mid-20s taking risks is to be applauded. A 16 year old marrying a 50 year old is getting into a really serious commitment which they almost certainly don’t have the level of life experience necessary to really commit to, in a relationship with a generational power differential which is substantial, and is doing so more or less as soon as they can marry. What’s the big rush, why not wait a bit? Apparently one of the motivations was Courtney Stodden – the wife in question – being a devout Christian sort who therefore presumably wanted to wait for marriage, but yeah.)

Overall, between the tinges of horror in the first two episodes and the sheer nightmare of Squeeze, it’s clear that The X-Files is at its strongest when it embraces a big dose of horror into its sci-fi/drama amalgam, though it seems to have taken Chris Carter and team a while to come around to that; it’s not until the eighth episode of the season, Ice, that they go full-bore horror again. It’s the inevitable The Thing riff that every science fiction show seems destined to do at some point, but the show at least lampshades this by setting it in a polar research base, and does about as good a job as John Carpenter himself did in terms of illustrating the destructive effects of paranoia. (In fact, the characters end up coming out of the situation somewhat better than the protagonists of The Thing did in part because Mulder and Scully have a genuine friendship and trust each other – something the gang in The Thing lacked, and it’s a rare example of a story being resolved through the power of friendship which isn’t cringeworthy.)

Ice is also notable as another early episode where Scully isn’t going full-bore sceptic: there is no reason for her to, the tangible physical evidence underpinning what’s going on is so unambiguous that she’s ready to accept it. This is useful because it means that the episode can play somewhat on a different tension between Mulder and Scully; Mulder wants to take some of the alien samples intact back to the US to prove the existence of extraterrestrial life and to use as the basis for research so that defences against the creatures can be properly formulated, whilst Scully considers the chances of infecting a more populated area unacceptable and believes that all the samples should be destroyed. This basic conflict between blue skies research and the immediate safety needs of the community is far more nuanced than the simplistic “does you BELEEV or does you NOT BELEEV???” angle that science fiction and paranormal shows often default to, and it’s nice that at least a few episodes of The X-Files even this early managed to get past that believer/nonbeliever dichotomy to examine other ideas.

In fact, making little tributes to science fiction classics is something of a habit of this season; another successful one is Eve, which manages to build interestingly on the ideas of The Boys From Brazil by moving away from the Hitler angle and contemplating what happens when a eugenic cloning experiment goes multi-generational. (That said, some of its aspects are a bit dodgy; whilst psychosis can have a genetic component, the portrayal of psychotic behaviour is strictly along the lines of cheesy Hollywood horror stories as opposed to actual psychosis – and as such implies that evil itself has a genetic component – a concept which perhaps links us back to Joseph Mengele after all.)

Not all of these little tributes are quite so successful. Space seems intended as an X-Files riff on The Quatermass Experiment, complete with an astronaut who came back from space with an extraterrestrial passenger (in this case, a space ghost – no word on whether it’s the coast-to-coast kind). You wouldn’t think Chris Carter and his team would bungle such a concept, but somehow they manage it with an overly dry script which takes entirely too long to kick into high gear, is prone to a lot of padding, and seems to have been designed as an episode which can be completed on a shoestring budget, relying heavily on NASA stock footage to fill time and running what’s supposed to be a NASA control centre out of what’s clearly a generic soundstage. (There’s also a risibly bad “spacewalk” sequence with some ghost special effects reminiscent of David Lynch’s special effects as deployed in INLAND EMPIRE or season 3 of Twin Peaks… specifically, those which are intended to be deliberately bad for aesthetic effect, though I don’t think this was meant to be deliberately bad here.) Mulder’s hero-worship of the possessed astronaut adds a little spice, but few other cast members seem able to muster the same enthusiasm for the material.

Mash this button when “Space” comes on.

The tendency for direct riffs on science fiction classics even extends to the mythology itself – Fallen Angel teases us with a lot of sound and fury and stilted B-movie dialogue related to the response to a UFO crash but, as is so often typical of the mythology episodes, it doesn’t end up signifying all that much – the main fun of the episode involves the alien intruder stalking about invisibly, much like the star of Predator. OK, the character of Max Fenig – played by Scott Bellis – as a representative of the flakier, more woo-infected end of UFOlogy and conspiracy theory is fun, and sets up later appearances from the character, though he’s a bit of a dry run prototype for the much more entertaining Lone Gunmen and, once they’re introduced, a bit redundant as a result.

If Squeeze is the first mystery-of-the-week episode, another pattern for the series was established by Conduit, which you could call the first “quasi-mythology” episode – an episode which, at least at first, seems to be tied into the whole UFOs/alien abduction/Mulder’s abducted sister/black oil/cigarette smoking man/extraterrestrial colonisation shebang, but in effect just represents the series spinning its wheels a bit without really adding anything to the mythology (to the point where nothing new or interesting is learned here at all and the episode is usually skipped over when people are enumerating those which actually contributed to the mytharc). Whilst this can be annoying in some respects, at this stage in the show it at least offers the writers – and thus, the audience – a chance to explore Mulder and Scully’s motivations in relation to the series’ mythology without having major new revelations cropping up to distract from that exploration.

One scene which really stood out for me in Conduit was the bit where Mulder and Scully drop in with the local sheriff to ask about this young woman who’s vanished under mysterious circumstances, and he shows no sign of being worried; he doesn’t just brush off Mulder’s unorthodox theory, he more or less admits the possibility that the missing Ruby has been murdered or being kept captive or otherwise brutalised by some ne’er-do-well, and seems to take the stance that women who behave as promiscuously as her more or less deserve that when it happens to them. Scully doesn’t seem as shocked as she perhaps should be here, though perhaps this is an artifact of the show being some 25 years old; these days, it feels to me like we take missing person situations much more seriously. You don’t need to dig too deep into true crime subjects to learn just how often a lackadaisical attitude from the police has enabled serial killers and others to get away with their shit for extended periods of time.

Another “first” for the series is Shadows, a mystery-of-the-week episode where they point is less to give us a really creepy monster to spook us or to give us some further insight into Mulder and Scully themselves, but which instead acts as a nice little character study of a one-off character who in certain respects is the actual protagonist of the story, with Mulder and Scully being supporting characters who act as the lens through which we explore the main character’s story. In this case, it’s Lauren Kyte (Lisa Waltz), a secretary mourning for her deceased boss who might be haunted by his ghost – or she may have incredibly powerful telekinetic powers which happen to manifest using the idea of his spiritual presence as a sort of guiding aesthetic.

It’s Waltz here who gets the lion’s share of the emoting and the strong scenes and the character development, with Mulder and Scully simply taking us along with them in a visit to her world. Maybe it’s a bit of a filler episode from the perspective of the overall arc of the series, but in terms of offering up a delicious bit of paranormal-tinged storytelling – a self-contained mini TV movie which happens to have some comfortingly familiar friends as part-investigators, part-Greek chorus – it’s rather nice, at least for the first half hour or so; for its last ten minutes the story spins its wheels a little, having already gotten to the point and done what it needs to do but finding itself not quite filling the episode’s running time, and it needs to pad itself out with a terrorist-busting exercise which Anderson and Duchovny don’t quite sound like they’re invested in it – though it least culminates in a reasonably interesting climactic manifestation.

If you want psychological depth to the series, though, perhaps your best treat is Beyond the Sea. This is the first episode in which Mulder and Scully’s believer/sceptic polarity gets out-and-out flipped, and in which Scully is undeniably the lead character whilst Mulder is sidelined for a good chunk of the episode. It kicks off with Scully being bereaved – her father (played by Don Davis of Twin Peaks fame, in another “wholesome military dad” role) dies of a heart attack early in the episode, and just before Scully gets the news over the phone she has a brief vision of him sat in her front room attempting to mouth a message to her, though it could just be a fragment of a dream rather than anything else.

“Sit around, look like I’m saying something profound, keep it dreamlike? OK, sure, Lynch had us doing this shit all the time.”

From there, we go into much darker territory, with the X-Files team pulled into the case of Luther Boggs (Brad Dourif) – a death row prisoner put away by Mulder earlier in his career, who claims to have psychically-gleaned information to share about a recent kidnapping. Mulder is convinced that it’s bullshit – an act intended to give Boggs just a little more of a reprieve before his scheduled execution – but Scully comes to believe that Boggs might well be channelling the dead – including her father.

As well as giving Scully some much-needed extra spotlight (and Anderson a chance to stretch her acting chops more than she has so far all season), the episode also takes its slower, more careful pace as an opportunity to go more Lynchian than the series has so far. I don’t mean Lynchian here in the sense of the rather forced quirkiness-for-the-sake-of-it of the likes of Wild Palms and other material which tries in a rather forced way to ape Lynch’s eccentricities; I mean Lynchian in the sense of the sheer unfettered evil which Lynch hints at in the darkest moments of his material, and which is the real underpinning of his work which the quirkiness is typically meant to provide a moment of relief from, rather than being the end in itself. In the more-artistic-than-usual direction, in the ambient soundtrack, in the grimness of it all, there’s an absolute reek of Lynch’s influence. Casting Major Briggs as Scully’s daddy is only the tip of the iceberg.

In addition, I think it’s the first episode in the series where it’s entirely possible that absolutely nothing paranormal or unusual has happened at all, and it’s particularly interesting that they chose such an episode to be the one which undermines Scully’s scepticism the most this season. Perhaps the it’s very nuts-and-bolts nature of some of the more blatant manifestations in the season which prompts Scully to look at things in a scientific and materialistic light – whereas, precisely because what happens here is so ephemeral and intangible, it sets her mind on ephemeral and intangible things, rather than anything which can be measured and quantified, and when she turns her mind to such things she finds that there is a scope for faith there where there isn’t when she’s dealing with something much more directly measurable and testable – Scully’s God is, in effect, the “God of the gaps”.

If you wanted evidence that the show was very much made for geeks by geeks, you need look no further than Ghost In the Machine. Sure, it’s a computers-and-networks paranoia episode giving an early 1990s update to rogue AI stories like Colossus: the Forbin Project or Demon Seed (the death of the AI is even a low-budget take on the death of HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey), but whilst some parts of it are extraordinarily cheesy in the way that 1990s cyber-thrillers often are, at the same time a lot of the stuff you see onscreen actually is much more true to early 1990s computing – and speculation about computing’s future – than is typical for this sort of fare. You see DOS menus where DOS menus are to be expected, for instance, some of the “smart home” ideas which were just blue sky R&D here has finally started rolling out on a consumer level, and the idea of an adaptive network being crucial to machine learning isn’t too much off-base.

Perhaps the only truly flawed assumption the episode indulges in is that you’d even need to invent AI to implement the “smart building” stuff which the COS system here is supposed to manage, when in fact you can implement an awful lot of “smart” functions without an actual self-aware mind capable of creative thought and experiencing qualia behind it. The episode’s still quite interesting, not least because it’s the first episode where Deep Throat actually gives the agents any sort of serious help, slipping them information when they’ve otherwise been stonewalled. (Back in the day this would have been taken as evidence that this was an important mythology episode, rather than another mystery-of-the-week; one of the major differences of rewatching the series after the fact is that you know not to get too invested in that sort of thing.)

Visually, the series by and large looks great. All the original footage shot for it was done at a sufficiently nice cinematographic standard that upscaling to 1080p HD looks great, and it was originally shot in widescreen and then hacked down to 4:3 aspect ratio for broadcast (since this would have been at the time that TV companies would have started filming things in expectation of the coming widescreen boom). The first noticeable bit of CGI we get is in Deep Throat, and that’s used in a way which clearly respected the limitations of the technology at the time and, therefore, still looks pretty effective today. The only real dips in quality I noticed was where they resort to stock footage here and there, where naturally the limitations of the stock footage is rather evident. On the whole, then, the series avoided the problems that some contemporaries like Babylon 5 have suffered when it comes to DVD or Blu-Ray releases.

One thing which stood out to me is that when they enter Tooms’ lair in Squeeze, they don’t seem to bother photographing the place; nor do they develop the habit of carrying a camera with them at all times later on. Now, obviously it’s the early 1990s and cameraphones are not a thing yet, let alone being as ubiquitous as they are today. However, decent compact cameras did exist, and given the trouble Mulder and Scully routinely have when it comes to convincing people of things they’ve seen, you’d have thought that they’d start making a point of at the very least carrying a cheap disposable wherever they go.

A notable thing about this season is that several of its weakest episodes – The Jersey DevilSpaceFire – were penned by Chris Carter himself, and indeed the most panned episodes of the recent revival were also Chris Carter pieces. Whilst the obvious assumption is that a television program’s showrunner and creator is going to have a better handle than anyone on what makes it tick, The X-Files may well be the example of an idea where it took one person to cook up the initial concept, but other hands to truly make it shine – like how Star Trek: The Next Generation picks up once Gene Roddenberry is out of the picture, or how Dungeons & Dragons needed Gary Gygax to take Dave Arneson’s weird, disorganised, fragmentary concept for a game and actually turn it into a game someone other than Dave Arneson could hope to run.

In particular, after doing a decent job of establishing the Mulder/Scully dynamic in the first two episodes of the season, Carter spends much of the rest of the season goofing it. Both The Jersey Devil and Fire are episodes where Mulder and Scully spend an extended amount of time apart and much of the focus is on Mulder, to the point where it starts feeling like he’s the main protagonist and Scully is merely the Watson to his Holmes, whereas other writers do a better job of keeping the two balanced. (To be fair to Carter, he does sometimes do a better job himself; at least in Space Scully is allowed to be more on the money than Mulder is when it comes to Colonel Belt’s motivations, Mulder having been blinded by hero-worship.)

Particularly shonky results happen when Carter plays script doctor – take, for instance, Young At Heart, which originated as a script from Scott Kaufer (an old buddy of Carter’s) before Carter revised it. It’s a weird thing, sharing Carter’s tendency to treat Mulder as the main character and Scully as his assistant and exacerbating it with a weird disconnection between how Mulder and Scully have been played so far; it almost feels like an episode of some lesser crime TV show given an X-Files spin, with Mulder and Scully alternating between reasonable approximations of their usual selves and empty, exposition-spouting cyphers. It’s almost like Kaufer wrote it for some other show before scraping the serial numbers off and mailing it to Carter.

Carter only really gets the hang of writing mystery-of-the-week episodes towards the end of the season with Darkness Falls. Admittedly, the core idea has some parallels with that of Ice when it comes to microscopic life unleashed from a long imprisonment, and admittedly in some parts it’s really annoyingly heavy-handed and condescendingly didactic; despite basically agreeing with the anti-deforestation angle, I still found it really annoyingly presented. Still, the episode does make really excellent use of the gorgeous British Columbia scenery that the early seasons of the X-Files enjoyed the benefits of (along with the generous British Columbia tax breaks for filmmakers), and the actual special effects denoting the presence of the hideous aphids are simple but effective. Perhaps most importantly, Carter doesn’t pull his punches and isn’t afraid to get grim – in the climactic scenes of the episode he comes this close to killing off Mulder and Scully, and even momentarily makes you believe they might actually die here (even though you know damn well they won’t).

Carter’s greatest accomplishment this season is the finale episode, The Erlenmeyer Flask, which is far and away the best mytharc episode this season. Beginning with a fast-paced car chase, it reverts at the beginning to a slower, gentler pace, before it spirals into a vertigo-inducing plunge into increasing weirdness and paranoia, with alien-human hybrids, dark biotechnological programs unfolding in anonymous private self-storage garages, elite assassins working for deep state dark projects and all that good shit mashed up into a delicious conspiracy theory stew. It more or less wraps up with the same “Scully takes extreme measures in order to get the Conspiracy to release the imprisoned Mulder” angle that the original Deep Throat did, though given the circumstances I am willing to forgive this as a deliberate parallel as opposed to a mere lack of ideas.

Possibly the most striking image of the entire season.

Capping the episode off with the assassination of Deep Throat – who prior to this had been presented as a crucially important recurring character – was a ballsy way of establishing that the X-Files would take no prisoners; a failure to show similar grit in terms of shaking up the show’s status quo is arguably one of the greater weaknesses of subsequent seasons.

As far as the other writers go, Glen Morgan and James Wong rapidly establish themselves as star players on the writing team, with their best episodes like SqueezeIce and Beyond the Sea ranking among the best in the season and even their B-material like Shadows still being pretty decent. They’re also responsible for what is, to me, the best mythology episode of the season – EBE, a morass of paranoia which makes Chris Carter’s attempts at UFO conspiracy lore seem positively naive. As well as introducing us to the Lone Gunmen, Mulder’s slacker conspiracy theorist buddies who despite (or perhaps because of) their personal shortcomings manage to be some of the best supporting characters in the series, and giving a much darker spin to Deep Throat than the show had depicted to date, EBE also adds a really nice spin to Scully’s scepticism.

Specifically, when Scully is fully ready to admit that there’s something conspiratorial going on when confronted with clear evidence of it – she’s just as willing to go paranoid as Mulder is, and in fact as a sceptic she makes a better paranoid than Mulder does as a believer. Believers like Mulder have an odd sort of credulousness to them, as seen in cases like that of Paul Bennewitz; they’re paranoid of official sources, but are willing to fall hook, line, and sinker for someone telling them a story which confirms their beliefs. Sceptics and pessimists, on the other hand, are willing to question everyone once it’s clear that a game of deception is being played – and so Scully is willing to raise questions about the honesty of Deep Throat that Mulder has so far not even contemplated.

Morgan and Wong’s star player status is cemented by the fact that Squeeze had the rare honour of getting a sequel – almost unheard-of for mystery-of-the-week episodes. Tooms lacks the punch of Squeeze because we already basically know what is going on, and there’s some failures of characterisation here and there; in particular, it seems weird that any psychiatrist would talk to someone as unfailingly, ceaselessly creepy as Tooms for any extended period of time and say “Oh, sure, this person is definitely ready to rejoin society”.

That said, Morgan and Wong are able to make it work by adding in a bit of extra spice. For one thing, they make sure to have Mulder menaced in his home by Tooms this time around, which is a refreshing change from the “Scully gets targeted because she’s the woman” dynamic the series would sometimes blunder into. Sure, Tooms doesn’t try to kill Mulder – but the episode at least strongly implies that Tooms takes the gambit he does because he’s learned that directly attacking the cops won’t fly.

In addition, Tooms is in some respects promoted to being a mytharc episode – not that Tooms himself ever has much to do with the wider mythology, but this is the episode which introduces Mitch Pileggi as Assistant Director Walter Skinner – Mulder and Scully’s FBI superior, who we are introduced to in the company of the Cigarette Smoking Man and apparently involved in the general push to get the X-Files shut down if a suitable pretext can be found. Previously, Mulder and Scully had been depicted in this season as reporting to a rather ill-defined set of superiors and the chain of command above them was far from clear; later episodes would use Skinner more regularly in order to clarify all that, thereby helping give a sense of the FBI as an actually structured institution rather than just a vague backdrop, and Skinner would have his own plot arc as he goes from being a more hostile sceptic to a reluctant supporter of the X-Files mission.

Other hired guns would have less salubrious records; Larry and Paul Barber’s Gender Bender would be the only episode they’d ever write for the series, and it’s a confused mess, with a central “gender-switching monster” gimmick which has dated extremely poorly (what with the transphobia and the gay panic and all) mashed up really awkwardly with the idea of an isolationist religious sect actually being a group of alien settlers, their Amish-like religious practices designed to help keep them separate from the main run of humanity. The latter concept is an interesting idea in itself, but is distracted from too much by the cheap titillation of the former concept.

Meanwhile, the Garth Marenghi Award for Cheesiest Writers goes to Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon. Despite being capable of more subtle work like Conduit, the duo tend to use their efforts more for B-movie-tastic efforts like Ghost In the Machine or Lazarus, in which the resuscitation via defibrillator of a shot FBI agent in the close presence of the dead body of a bank robber shot in the same incident causes the spirits of the bank robber to end up in the FBI agent’s body.

It’s impossible to take the rest of the episode seriously after the absurd into, in which the bank robber’s corpse is seen jerking in the background as the team of medics pump electricity into the stricken Agent Willis. Whilst it’s a good visual to establish to the audience what is going on, the medical team is surrounding Willis in a circle, which means that the robber’s corpse is surely in the field of vision of some of them – and the body is bucking so hard that it’d surely grab your attention if it was thrashing around in the background. The end result is an absurdity worthy of Darkplace itself, and the rest of the episode is similarly cheesy.

Gansa and Gordon evidently didn’t think their first go-around of the “dead person cohabiting in a living person’s body” idea hit the spot either, because they use the exact same premise all over again in Born Again late in the season. To give them credit, it’s got an undeniably strong opening; a police officer coming off-duty finds a young child sitting forlornly in a nearby alleyway, and brings her into the station. She leaves the child with a detective colleague to interview her in order to work out who she is and how to contact her parents. The child is alone with the room with the detective (a situation unthinkable in this day and age and surprisingly shocking to see in this context), and then after mere seconds the detective is launched bodily through the window, to fall to his death in the street below.

After a strong beginning, however, the episode descends into utter nonsense, with the reincarnation plot tied in with a psychokinesis angle to give some mechanism by which the episode’s Creepy Little Girl (yes, it resorts to that trope) can murder a bunch of burly corrupt cops.

I suspect it’s Gansa who tends to steer the Gansa-Gordon episodes into cheesetown; Howard Gordon’s mostly-solo script Miracle Man (it had some bits fleshed out by Chris Carter, apparently) is one of the seasons most low-key and thoughtful episodes. I particularly like the way it interweaves blatant phenomena which turn out to be entirely conventional and (mostly) more subtle phenomena which don’t get such a clear-cut explanation – as well as the ambiguity as to whether Scott Bairstow’s faith healer caught in the middle of a crisis of faith is really channelling the power of God or simply exercising a strange, instinctive manipulation of people’s electrical fields. (The most potent manifestation Bairstow’s character manages, after all, comes in the midst of a thunderstorm.)

Overall, Gordon very effectively manages to create the impression of something genuinely precious and interesting being rendered tawdry and ridiculous by the tacky gaudiness of American-style tent ministries – a carny practice which, despite offering many a connection to the divine, seems to me destined only to ruin any sense of the sacred and transcendent instead of evoking it.

Marilyn Osborn’s sole contribution to the season – and to the entire series – is Shapes. This is basically a werewolf story, played straight according to the classic werewolf tropes; it’s part of a spate of stories from the 1990s where, rather than actually accurately depicting Native American lore concerning skin-walkers and other such figures, people just lazily transposed European-style werewolf lore to a Native American context; Tony Zarrindast’s Werewolf, subject of one of the best Mike Nelson-era Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes, is another example of this sort of thing, as is half of the Werewolf: the Apocalypse game line. (Of course, The X-Files would get much, much more appropriative later on in its run, with great swathes of Navajo culture being riffed on to serve the alien mytharc.)

At the same time, aside from this one folklore point it’s a more nuanced and authentic depiction of Native American culture – and the tensions between reservation residents and neighbouring land owners – than you’d typically get on TV at the time. It’s also nice to see Michael Horse of Twin Peaks fame in action again; having been a sheriff’s deputy and pal of Dale Cooper’s, he’s gotten a promotion, a name change (though he’s still basically playing Hawk from Twin Peaks) and a transfer to be in charge of law enforcement on this Montana reservation. It’d be a stronger episode if it didn’t lazily apply the label of “manitou” to its monster-of-the-week – an offensive misrepresentation of an actual religious concept, and come on Marilyn, “skin-walker” fits the bill much, much better. Aside from this, it’s a competently executed, rather predictable mystery-of-the-week story which manages to deliver a few good scares even though you basically know what’s coming – the X-Files equivalent of comfort eating.

Chris Ruppenthal also gets his only solo X-Files writing credit here with Roland. (He’d also write the first draft of the second season episode 3, but the final episode was the subject of extensive rewrites by Glen Morgan and James Wong.) This is yet another “dead person acts from beyond the grave via an unlikely vessel” episode in a season already overstuffed with them, with a side order of somewhat patronising treatment of people with learning disabilities; Željko Ivanek’s performance as Roland himself is basically a less heavy-handed version of the whole Rain Man thing.

So that, then, is the first season of The X-Files, for better or worse. You’d think that for subsequent seasons, Chris Carter and his team would have learned the lessons of their missteps and have a better knack for focusing the series in the SF-horror borderland it works best in. And you’d think, particularly with some of the cleanup operations they witness in The Erlenmeyer Flask, that Mulder and Scully would turn carrying cameras and taking photos of everything freaky they witness into part of their standard operating procedure. But that, friends, is an article for another day.

9 thoughts on “Revisiting the X-Files, Part 1: The First Step Into the Shadows

  1. luisdantas

    Obviously a tangent, but your comment on Gygax and Arneson caught my attention. I am not well informed about the exact nature of the creative tension between the two, but what little I know implies that Arneson had by far the best artistic merit among them.
    Do you elaborate on that situation somewhere (presumably in some R&R post)?

    Like

    1. See my Playing At the World review for a deep dive – https://refereeingandreflection.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/playing-at-the-world-winning-at-history/ – but the short version is that whilst Arneson might have had some wild ideas, he was miserably bad at communicating them in written form, and it took someone like Gygax to actually organise D&D and turn it into a game others could play without packing an Arneson clone into every copy to run the game for you.

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  2. Ronan Wills

    Last year I made an attempt to watch the X-Files for the first time. I caught little bits and pieces of it when it was airing on TV (I think mostly the later seasons), but I was younger than you at the time and it was mostly 2 spooky 4 me. The episode about the legless guy kept me up for weeks.

    Coming at it fresh, I bounced off it pretty hard. A lot of it really hasn’t aged well, and I found it hard to take seriously. I remember an early episode about Neanderthals being particularly goofy.

    That said, there were parts that drew me in, including the very first episode. I think less special-effects driven episodes have probably aged better, so I’ve been thinking of giving it another shot, and maybe this time jumping around between whatever the fans consider the top-tier material (I assume there are recommended watch lists doing the rounds) instead of just trying to watch all of it in order.

    (By the way, I think something’s gone wonky with the comments on this blog; I was trying to comment by logging into twitter and kept getting a “Please fill out the required fields (name, email)” error)

    Like

    1. Tech issues will likely be at WordPress’s end. If you’ve got something like AdBlock running it could be that it’s messing with the necessary bits to talk to Twitter.

      The Neanderthal episode, if it’s the one I’m thinking of (The Jersey Devil), is easily one of the worst bits of season 1. It’s a particular shame that they wasted such a fun bit of folklore on such a limp story.

      Like

  3. Hi,

    I want to share some very important news that has been spreading around the internet concerning our future well being.

    We are approaching a future of a one-world cashless society in which they will mandate us to have an RFID microchip implanted in our body. This chip will contain all our personal information and we will lose much more of our privacy because of the tracking capabilities.

    More importantly, did you know that this was all prophesied almost 2000 years ago by a man named Jesus? Don’t believe me? Keep reading…This may be the most important thing you will ever read.

    “He(the false prophet) causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

    Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666” (Revelation 13:16-18).

    Referring to the last days, this could only be speaking of a cashless money society, which we have yet to see, but are heading towards. Why? Because we could still buy or sell without receiving the mark among one another if physical money was still currency. It logically deduces itself to this reason.

    This mark could not be spiritual, because the word references two different physical locations. If it was spiritual, it would just say in the forehead.

    This is where it really starts to come together. It is shocking how accurate the Bible is concerning this RFID microchip. These are notes from a man named Carl Sanders who worked with a team of engineers to help develop this RFID microchip in the 90’s.

    Mr. Carl Sanders sat in seventeen New World Order meetings with heads-of-state officials such as Henry Kissinger and Bob Gates of the CIA to discuss plans on how to bring forth this one-world system. The US government commissioned Mr. Sanders to design a microchip for identifying and controlling the peoples of the world-a microchip that could be placed under the skin with a hypodermic needle(a quick, convenient process that would be slowly accepted by society).

    Carl Sanders, along with a group of engineers behind him, with U.S. grant monies provided by US tax dollars, took on this project and designed a chip that is powered by a lithium battery, rechargeable by the temperature fluctuations in our skin. Without the knowledge of the Bible(Mr. Sanders was not a follower of Christ at the time), these engineers spent one and a half million dollars doing research on the best and most convenient place to have the microchip placed under the skin.

    Guess what? These researchers found that the forehead and the back of the hand(the two places Revelation says the mark will go) are not just the most convenient locations, but are also the only viable places for rapid, consistent temperature changes in the skin to recharge the lithium battery. The chip is about seven millimeters in length, .75 millimeters in diameter, about the size of a grain of rice. It is capable of holding pages of information about you. All your general history, work history, crime record, health history, and financial data can be stored on this chip.

    Carl Sanders believes that this microchip, which he regretfully helped design, is the “mark” spoken about in Revelation 13:16-18. The original Greek word for “mark” is “charagma,” which means a “scratch or etching.” It is also interesting to note that the number 666 is a word in the original Greek language. The word is “chi xi stigma,” with the last part, “stigma,” also meaning “to stick or prick. Carl believes this is referring to the use of a hypodermic needle being poked into the human flesh to insert the microchip.”

    Carl Sanders reached out to a doctor asking what would occur if the lithium contained within the RFID chip leaked into the body. The doctor answered by saying a terrible sore would appear in that location. This is what the book of Revelation has to say:

    “And the first(Angel) went, and poured out his vial on the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore on the men which had the mark of the beast, and on them which worshipped his image” (Revelation 16:2).

    The Bible tells us we cannot buy or sell without the mark of the beast, or the number of its name. This number is identified as 666. The Bible tells us to calculate the number 666. How do we calculate 666?

    This is where it gets really interesting. Calculating the number 666 has been long debated throughout the centuries, but has now been revealed in these last days by God. What I will show you confirms itself with the Bible the true meaning to calculate 666.

    Throughout the Bible, God uses the number 3 as confirmation of things. Here are a few examples:

    “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one” (1 John 5:7 NKJV).

    “and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:4 NKJV).

    “…Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8 NKJV).

    Now what is interesting is the the mark of the beast is decribed in detail in three seperate verses (Revelation 13:16,17,18), and each verse lists three different examples of the given topic. The last three being the number 6 being used three times in a row. This is a key point to unlocking how to calculate the number 666.

    What does it mean to count? It means to add up. So how could we add up 666? Remember my previous point about God confirming in threes. So logically, what would be the best way to count the number 666? To count it equally in threes based off the number. We cannot count it equally as 600+60+6, this would also bring us back to the start. We cannot count it as 600+600+600, or 60+60+60, because there are no zeroes in between or at the end of 666. The only logical option is 6+6+6=18. What is interesting is that the verse that reveals for us to count the number itself is verse 18, being the third verse out of three verses that describe the mark of the beast. What is 18 divided by 3? 6. So 3×6=18, or 6+6+6=18.

    Another interesting point is the only two other combinations (making a total of three possible combinations) for placing a “+” symbol in between the 6’s are 66+6=72, and 6+66=72. Add both 72’s together and you get 144. Why the number 144 is interesting is because the verse following Revelation 13:18 is the first time in the Bible where the 144,000 are being described in detail:

    “Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads…” (Revelation 14:1).

    Now if you add up all three numbers by counting 666 by moving the “+” symbol around in all three possible combinations, it would be 72+72+18=162. What is interesting about the number 162, is, if you divide 144,000 by 162, you get 888. The name of Jesus in Greek gematria adds up to 888. The New Testament was orignally written in Greek. Revelation 14:1 not only mentions the 144,000, but also the Lamb who is Jesus.

    Now what is interesting about the number for Jesus, 888, is that if you apply this same formula, you get 8+8+8=24. Why the number 24? Revelation chapter 4 tells us there are 24 elders seated around the throne of God. This is the same throne where Jesus sits:

    “Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads” (Revelation 4:2-4).

    Now if you take 8+8+8=24, and 8+88=96, and 88+8=96, you get 24+96+96=216. Take 144,000 divided by 216 and you get 666. Remember that this was the same exact formula to get the number 162 out of counting 666 that brought about the number 888 when dividing 144,000 by 162. It is perpetual.

    With using the same formula of counting by adding the “+” symbol in between the numbers, why do all these numbers relate in such a way?

    Another interesting point to note is that if you add up all the numbers from 1 to 36, it totals 666. The number 36, as in three sixes? Could this be a hint that we should add up three sixes instead of perceiving the number as six-hundred sixty six?

    So what could this mean? Well we know in this world we are identified by numbers in various forms. From our birth certificate to social security, as well as our drivers license, being identified based on a system of ruler ship. So it is possible that this RFID microchip will contain a new identification that has a total of 18 characters.

    Could this be the name of the beast, the number of its name? The one-world beast system that is identified by 18 characters? This would fit scripture that speaks of a mark that we must have to buy or sell in our right hand or forehead, and that it also contains the number of the beast, during a future cashless money society.

    Go to: http://biblefreedom.com to see all the proof!

    The Bible warns us in the end times that a false prophet will rise up doing miracles to deceive many to receive this mark:

    “Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image” (Revelation 19:20).

    No matter the cost, DO NOT TAKE IT!

    “Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name” (Revelation 14:9-11).

    We are living in very prophetic times with major Biblical prophecies being fulfilled. When Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as captial of Israel in December of 2017, this was a big step to bring about the Third Temple prophesied in the Bible.

    The Bible tells us that the Antichrist will seat himself in this temple:

    “…and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).

    In the Islamic religion, they have man called the Mahdi, known as their messiah who they are waiting to appear. There are many testimonies from people online who believe this man will be Barack Obama who is to be the biblical Antichrist. I myself have had strange dreams about him. He came on stage claiming to be a Christian with no affiliation to the Muslim faith, but was later revealed by his own family members that he indeed is a devout Muslim.

    His real name is said to be Barry Soetoro, and he had his name changed to Barack Obama. But why?

    Jesus says, “And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven'” (Luke 10:18).

    In Hebrew, the word Barack means “lighting”, and the use of Bama (Strongs Hebrew word 1116) is used to refer to the “heights”” of heaven.

    The day following the election of Barack Obama (11/04/08), the winning pick 3 lotto numbers in Illinois (Obama’s home state) for 11/5/08 were 666.

    Obama was a U.S. senator for Illinois, and his zip code was 60606.

    Regardless, whoever seats himself in that Third Temple in Jerusalem declaring himself to be God IS THE ANTICHRIST. DO NOT BE DECEIVED.

    Why do we need Jesus?

    “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 2:23).

    “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

    Our good works cannot save us. If we step before a judge, being guilty of a crime, the judge will not judge us by the good that we have done, but rather the crimes we have committed. If we as fallen humanity, created in God’s image, pose this type of justice, how much more a perfect, righteous, and Holy God?

    God has brought down His moral law’s through the 10 commandments given to Moses at Mt. Siani. These laws were not given so we may be justified, but so that we may see the need for a savior. They are the mirrior of God’s character of what He has put in each and every one of us, with our concious bearing witness that we know that it is wrong to steal, lie, dishonor our parents, and so forth.

    We can try and follow the moral laws of the 10 commandments, but we will never catch up to them to be justified before a Holy God. That same word of the law given to Moses became flesh over 2000 years ago in the body of Jesus Christ. He came to be our justification by fullfilling the law, living a sinless perfect life that only God could fulfill.

    The gap between us and the law can never be reconciled by our own merit, but the arm of Jesus is stretched out by the grace and mercy of God. And if we are to grab on, through faith in Him, He will pull us up being the one to justify us. As in the court of law, if someone steps in and pays your fine, even though you are guilty, the judge can do what is legal and just and let you go free. This is what Jesus did almost 2000 years ago on the cross. It was a legal transaction being fulfilled in the spritual realm by the shedding of His blood, with His last words being, “…It is finished!…” (John 19:30).

    Now why did Jesus have to die for us?

    Because God is Holy and just, the wrath that we deserve could not go unoticed. Through the perfect righteousness and justice of God’s character, it must be dealt with, it must be quenched and satisfied.

    For God takes no death in the pleasure of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23). This is why in Isaiah chapter 53, where it speaks of the coming Messiah and His soul being a sacrifice for our sins, why it says it pleased God to crush His only begotten Son.

    This is because the wrath that we deserve was justified by being poured out upon His Son. For if it was poured out upon us who deserve it, we would all die and go to hell. God created a way of escape by pouring it out on His Son who’s soul could not be left in hades, but was raised and seated at the right hand of God in power.

    So now when we put on the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14), God no longer see’s the person who deserves His wrath, but rather the glorious image of His perfect Son dwelling in us, justifing us as if we received the wrath we deserve, making a way of escape from the curse of death.

    Now what we must do is repent and trust in the savior, confessing and forsaking our sins. This is not just a head knowledge of believing in Jesus, but rather receiving His words, taking them to heart. Where we no longer live to practice sin, but rather turn from our sins and practice righteousness:

    “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

    By doing so we may become transformed into the image of God through faith in His Son Christ Jesus Who is willing to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask of Him:

    “Most assuredly, I(Jesus) say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ (John 3:5-6).

    “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His” (Romans 8:9).

    What are you waiting for? Our Father in heaven only wants the best for us, restoring everything this world has stolen from us. This is what it means to by “holy”. To be made whole.

    He is waiting to hear from you. That God given tongue to speak language, through faith, pray to Him, ask Him to forgive you by confessing your sins and be willing to forsake them; that you accept the sacrifice of His Son Jesus on the cross, and that you want His Holy Spirit living inside you transforming you into a child of God.

    Jesus says, “but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him(the Holy Spirit) will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

    Did you know that Jesus spoke more about hell than anyone else, even more than he spoke about heaven?! For this very reason He came to die for us, to rescue us from this place that we deserve.

    He describes hell as a real place where,

    “Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:44)

    And where,

    “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth…” (Luke 13:28).

    Jesus tells us who to fear,

    “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

    “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’

    Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’

    And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.'” (Revelation 21:1-8).

    Out of all the world religions, how can we be sure the Bible got it right? The scientific data has established and continues to support that the universe once had a beginning in which space, time and matter were created. Many know this as the big bang.

    “The non-biblical religions tell us that god or god’s create within space and time that eternally exist. The Bible stands alone and says that time and space don’t exist until God creates the universe.” – Astronomer(Phd) Hugh Ross

    The Bible not only got it right that space, time and matter all came into existence at the beginning of the universe, it also states in 11 different places that the universe is expanding thousands of years before scientists discovered these things.

    Did you know that the real Noah’s Ark was discovered where the Bible told us it would be with the correct dimensions? As well as proof for the destruction of Sodom Gomorrah and the Exodus account of the Red Sea crossing?

    The Bible is the most translated and read book in the history of the world, full of predictive prophecies, matching what we find in the book of nature. Wouldn’t you expect God’s word to be so?

    This information and more can all be found here: http://biblefreedom.com

    God loves you!

    Like

  4. Oh, wow, got here in time for the epic spam comment. Nice. I especially appreciate the maths lesson. Plus, who knew state lotteries have the gift of prophecy?

    Er, anyway, I didn’t watch X-Files when it was originally on TV, first because our television set only played VHS, and second, because from the ads I saw it looked frickin’ scary, and I’m not, as a rule, a horror aficionado.

    My first introduction to the show was just four years ago (around the same time the series started up again, perhaps coincidentally). A couple of my friends who at the time lived a couple blocks away were big fans of the show, and decided to introduce me to it, as it was streaming on NetFlix, to which I responded ‘Sure, why not?’

    We only got through about the first half dozen episodes of the first season before employment and school and a couple relocations put an end to our episode watching parties. I wouldn’t be surprised if we never get back to the series, but if we do, it won’t be anytime soon. So this review stoked a lot of nostalgic memories, albeit more recent for me than for most X-Files fans.

    (I enjoyed what I saw, but I wasn’t sufficiently invested to keep watching on my own, and I think it’s no longer available streaming, so I can only comment on those first several episodes.)

    Encountering the show fresh 20+ years later, I was pleasantly surprised to find it didn’t feel nearly so dated as I expected. I have a stereotype of groundbreaking sci-fi shows from even a couple decades back, that what was cutting edge storytelling at the time seems trite, simplistic, and predictable from a contemporary standpoint. Most of the episodes I watched, however—including the ones you’re more dismissive toward—held up quite well for me, engaging me with their mysteries and often surprising me.

    Something one of my friends said about the show years before we watched it was that it’s really good for its time portraying an equal balance between the female and male leads, and what I saw fit your and her description.

    Also, during the underwear scene with Scully in the pilot, one of my friends asked the other wistfully why she and Mulder couldn’t just start sleeping with each other right from the start.

    I don’t remember the part about bringing up Scully’s childbearing prospects/plans in Jersey Devil. I don’t remember that episode being particularly bad, either—a couple wrong notes, but overall it didn’t give a strong impression either way, except that the little kid Devil at the end of the episode was really cute.

    I also don’t remember Space being as bad as you describe. In fact, it was one of those episodes which surprised me with its ability to subvert my expectations and leave me guessing. I remember finding the sequence with the shuttle, and the concern over whether the astronaut would make it back or not, built a lot of really effective tension for me. And I thought the ending, while satisfyingly resolving the main problem, preserved the larger mystery of precisely what was going on. (In the “there’s a larger pattern at work here that you don’t have enough pieces to figure out” sense of mystery rather than “the writer/director threw in a bunch of stuff without bothering to come up with an internal logic to explain it.”)

    Coming back to the show being more fresh in its ideas than I expected, Ghost in the Shell was an obvious “AI becomes self aware, starts killing people it considers a threat” plot right from the get go. Yet the episode developed interestingly enough, and the real curveball for me came towards the end, with the AI creator’s motivation for taking the fall for his creation. This, too, is a familiar situation for this kind of plot—the creator feels responsible and concerned for the AI, even when it’s gone murderous, and wants to protect it, even when that puts more people at risk. Except in this case, the creator displays no such sentimental attachment for his AI, and instead is throwing himself on the grenade so the US government won’t discover and weaponize self aware AIs. He even cites the H-Bomb as a case of what he wants to avoid. This replicates the daft sci-fi convention where, if one person makes a groundbreaking discovery based (as far as we know) on generally available information, no one else will be able to replicate that discovery without their help for the foreseeable future; which to my knowledge is the exact opposite of how actual scientific breakthroughs work. That aside, apart from being a spectacularly sensible concern for a researcher to have, to me it makes more sense as an in-universe explanation for why all knowledge of the AI gets covered up than misguided loyalty on the part of the creator.

    (It also puts X-Files on a better ethical footing in terms of its politics than, say, the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I still vividly remember the episode from that show where the Monster of the Week was a girl who’d turned invisible and was causing havoc—with the resolution being that she gets captured and recruited by the Central fucking Intelligence Agency to learn to assassinate social democratic and moderate nationalist South American political leaders, and this is treated as a happy ending. Point goes to X-Files.)

    (That said, I do wonder whether the real FBI is nearly as parochial and snooty about offbeat interests as it’s depicted here. I reckon you probably need to be a bit of a true crime nerd to land a job there, and my suspicion is that there aren’t that many true crime nerds who aren’t also nerds of some other stripe.)

    Sure, but it’s not as though nerds are above creating arbitrary pecking orders within the subculture, is it? “I mean, we may like sci-fi and conspiracy stories and all that, but at least we don’t believe it actually happens.”

    Then again, perhaps a better analogy for how the other agents would more likely treat someone like Mulder would be a bit like how regular D&D players would treat a non-violent version of those TV D&D players who get the game mixed up with reality. I guess I’m not sure how they’d treat someone who behaved like that.

    Anyway, thanks for this thoughtful, comprehensive look at a show I’ve always been a little bit curious about, and as of a few years ago have a number of sentimental memories attached to.

    Like

  5. Pingback: Revisiting the X-Files, Part 3: The Third Assignment – The Thoughts and Fancies of a Fake Geek Boy

  6. Pingback: Revisiting the X-Files, Part 4: Fourth Into the Unknown – The Thoughts and Fancies of a Fake Geek Boy

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