It’s a pity that the recent return of The X-Files (season 10, 6 episodes, fourteen years after the end of the last season) ran on Fox channel when X-Files season 4 was running on Hits Channel at the same time. Season 4 was a showcase of some of the best of those first nine seasons.
1. Cinematography: The opening scene on “Tempus Fugit” (episode 17), a plane flying across the moon in the night sky — still takes my breath away.
2. Writing: Scully’s soliloquy when she discovers that she has cancer, at the beginning of “Momento Mori” (episode 14), remains one of the most powerful pieces of writing I know.
3. Social commentary: A sympathetic look at the life of Orthodox Jews in America and the reality of anti-Semitism in “Kaddish” (episode 15) is educational while it grippingly explores the themes of hatred, love and loss.
See also the depiction of the struggles of the lives of illegal migrant workers in “El Mundo Gira” (episode 11) where, as is often the case, paranormal phenomena serve as metaphors for the horrors we encounter in real life.
4. Relationships: The relationship between Mulder and Scully was a showcase for a friendship marked by humour and tension but one where the two cared for each other deeply. See Mulder’s reaction to Scully’s cancer in “Momento Mori” and how he celebrated her birthday in “Tempus Fugit” and “Max.”
I could go on. But the episodes of season 4 made the recent X-Files season look even worse than it was. In truth, season 10 is not bad. And I wish it would continue. The last episode was shamelessly a season-end cliff-hanger. My favourite episodes were episode 1 which captured some of the tensions of the government conspiracy story arc and episode 3 that was really funny and yet challenged us to revisit our propensity to jump to conclusions. The violence was much more graphic this time round and sometimes that signals a ploy to get attention because other elements may not be that strong. Indeed, in terms of overall quality, season 10 was nowhere near others like season 4.
You would have concluded by now that I am a serious X-Files fan, maybe one needing some therapy. I have asked myself why this series looms so large in my life. This is my tentative conclusion: The X-files began in 1993, the year that my first wife died of cancer. Her death was the start of ten of the darkest years in my life. The first nine seasons of the X-Files was a constant in that dark period. Once a week I watched the opening scenes, heard the theme music, and sighed when we reached the end, with the “I made this” of Ten Thirteen Productions. Escapism in a tough time of my life? Sure. I often asked myself how I survived those ten dark years. I know the answer: the grace of God and the love of my friends. And The X-Files.
Here is entertainment at its best. It takes you away from your pains for a while and that is a sabbath of sorts. It hints that life is more than what you encounter everyday. It warms you with the reminder of the power of friendship. (I really missed the Lone Gunmen in season 10.) It recognises that there is evil and sadness in life and that these may not be resolved immediately. It acknowledges good and evil in the world and hopes in the eventual defeat of evil though this is more implied (“The Truth”, season 9, episodes 19 and 20). Then there is the hint of transcendence in the music, the characters, the acting, the script, the cinematography, etc. God’s grace is found in unexpected places.
A helpful fantasy that corresponds more with Christian themes would be Tolkien’s trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. I have read those nine times I think. (I have begun to lose count.) I first encountered Tolkien’s trilogy in my first year of university, long before I had any inkling of the darkness that awaited me 20 years later. It continues to speak to me. But The X-files were a faithful companion for a season of my life. And for that I am grateful.
“Time passes in moments… moments which, rushing past, define the path of a life, just as surely as they lead towards its end. How rarely do we stop to examine that path, to see the reasons why all things happen, to consider whether the path we take in life is our own making, or simply one into which we drift with eyes closed. But what if we could stop, pause to take stock of each precious moment before it passes? Might we then see the endless forks in the road that have shaped a life? And, seeing those choices, choose another path?” – Scully (“All Things”, season 7, episode 17).
Reverend Finley: Sometimes we must come full circle to find the truth.
Why does that surprise you?
Scully: Mostly, it just makes me afraid.
Reverend Finley: Afraid?
Scully: Afraid that God is speaking … but that no one’s listening.
(“Revelations”, season 3, episode 11).