Wednesday, 25 February 2015

X-Files Rewatch | Pilot



Is the truth still out there? Of course, it is. In honor of the circulating rumor that my favourite TV show might be coming back, why not rewatch the whole thing for the third time since 2013? So, buckle up, as I am about to take you on a ride into the paranormal. (Kudos to you if you know which episode that veiled quote is from).


This was going to be on both the Pilot and Deep Throat, but it ended up being way too long for two reviews in one. Mainly because there is a lot of stuff to introduce within the Pilot. So, I'll couple Deep Throat with Squeeze next Wednesday.  

Let's get the formalities out of the way first. You could call me a new X-Files fan. I started watching the show (properly) in the Spring of 2013, and didn't end up finishing it until the beginning of last year (I think). Even though I was born in '96 whilst the third season was airing, I did grow up with the show; because of my parents. 


They're fans of the show, but it's safe to say that they have little or no memory of any episodes that they watched back when it was airing. Although, I must have managed to watch some of them somehow with them because when I watched Fight the Future (yes, I watched the film first) for the first time, I recognized Gillian's hair and David's voice. And then throughout the series, I began to recognize certain scenes here and there. 


September 10, 1993. The day when a little show called The X-Files came to air for the first time, thrusting David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson onto the small screen as FBI Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. It's strange to think now how literally no one knew who Duchovny and Anderson were at the time and that the characters they were portraying and the show itself would end up being not only a 90s phenomenon but one of the greatest television series of all time. 

I forgot that the episode started off with this title card:  "The following story is inspired by actual documented accounts". In retrospect - after watching the whole series - this gives the show such a more unique presence to it. It's fictional, but in a sense, it isn't. All these stories have some depth of truth to them, however fantastic and implausible they may be, the stories are out there.

And we've got our first inspired documented account through alien abduction/genetic mutilation experimentation. This is what the show became known for through Mulder's quest to find his sister Samantha, of whom he believes was abducted by aliens when they were both kids.

We're already given the classic X-Files story structure within the cold open, and throughout the episode, we can see staple X-Files locations. Such as forests, graveyards, small towns, motel rooms, and of course, rain. Chris Carter is extremely good at being able to set the shows aesthetic right off the bat and sticking to it, showing us what sort of ride we are in for with these characters, and if we want to stay with them for the long haul. 


  
  

We are then introduced to two of the most influential characters in television history, Mulder and Scully. Just saying their names makes me want to burst out into this song. After the cold open, the episode starts with the camera following medical doctor Dana Scully as she enters the FBI Hoover Building in Washington D.C.

We can immediately see the confidence that Scully exudes as she walks above the men of the FBI offices on her way to Blevins office to be given a new assignment, of which she believes will help distinguish herself within the FBI. An assignment in the form of former BSU profiler Fox Mulder, of whom she is given the task of being paired with to debunk his dedicated work on 'The X-Files' - a division of investigations into the paranormal that is more of a burden to the FBI than anything else.

Although, it seems through the duration of her conversation with Blevins that she's not too fond of debunking a fellow agents' integrity. They haven't even met yet and already their mutual respect is forming, which Mulder later showcases in having read Scully's thesis on Einstein to get a grasp (and maybe profile?) the sort of person he'll be working with. 

Even though Mulder doesn't seem to trust Scully as he greets her sarcastically, she showcases to him her willingness and excitement to work with him. And of course, they eventually get into their first debate over the existence of extraterrestrial life, which showcases one of the strong points in their blossoming relationship. Their ability to have such intellectual arguments with one another is astounding. You can see that they both appreciate how they are able to counter argue each other and come to a somewhat mutual agreement.

  
  
  

They're already turning out to be each other's perfect opposites, albeit on a completely platonic level. On some level, Scully could be seen as a mild version of Mulder. Both are set very strongly in their own personal beliefs, one has a much more open capacity in believing in the fantastic than the other. Scully believes to a certain extent (mainly for Mulder's sake), but she hits a wall when she doesn't have the evidence she needs to back it up. And even if she does, she still hits that wall of being afraid to believe.

Mulder can open her eyes to a world that she has been taught not to see by what society deems irrational and crazy. You can see her starting to open up as she stares with wonder at the X-Ray of the implant that she has taped to her lamp in her motel room. She needs to find out what it is, she needs the truth. Just like Mulder.


The motel scene is one of the major scenes of this episode. It's here where we see that Scully already trusts Mulder enough for her to open herself up vulnerably - literally - for him to check if the bites on her back are the same marks as the abductees had. In return, Mulder delves personal information about his past to her. Through this, we see that Mulder finds it easier to open up to Scully about deeply personal information than she does about suspicious marks appearing on her back. This is the beginning of the reversed gender stereotypes that Mulder and Scully hold throughout the rest of the show, with Mulder having higher emotional tendencies and Scully being much more reserved. 

  
  

Another difference to be observed with this pairing compared to others on television, is that you can tell neither of them is led by the other. They both go their own way and do their own thing, then come together as one. There is no dominance in their partnership. They're both agents trying to search for the truth and get the job done.

As Mulder's search for the truth is revealed, Scully can see how his personal demons are clouding his judgment. He may not see it, but Scully does. This vulnerability makes him easy to mock amongst his peers, hence the nickname he's already garnered for himself: 'Spooky Mulder'. He's already self-depreciated himself to a level where it doesn't even affect him anymore. In turn, Scully begins to act as his rational conscious. She's there not to debunk him, but to keep him sane. To make him a whole person. Neither of them know that yet seeing as they've only just met, but you can already see that mutual respect and trust forming and Scully's open need to protect Mulder so she can validate his work (to an extent). Which is the basis of their entire relationship throughout the show.

It's Mulder's naive believability and Scully's skepticism that allows them to bond straight away in the basement, leading to a Pilot that really sets the foundations in terms of the progression of their relationship. It also sets up the conspiracy side of the show extremely well with the small inclusion of the foreboding Cigarette Smoking Man lurking in the shadows throughout the episode. As well as the strange inclusion of the Pentagon being where alleged extraterrestrial items are kept and forgotten about. 

The Pilot as a whole is a great opening to the series. It sets the tone and aesthetic straight away, and doesn't bore you with the background of the two main characters. Instead, you're thrust straight into the story much like Scully is thrust straight into Mulder's world.

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