The X Denials

I just finished watching the first season of the X Files, after years of planning rather nebulously to give it a shot. I can trace my interest back to eighth or ninth grade, when my family rented and watched a couple of episodes. I specifically remember one episode in which a nice old lady meets her untimely demise at the hands of her tenant, though it’s the image of this guy’s teeth falling into the sink that really stuck with me. At the time I couldn’t handle the show (in fact I found out, years later, that I was the reason we stopped watching; I was both sorry and glad at the time that we stopped, but it would have shamed me to know it was my fault), but I’ve always wanted to re-explore the horrifying intrigue I associate with the X Files.

Twenty-four episodes on and I certainly like it (it’s entertaining, which is what I look for in, you know, entertainment), but I wouldn’t say I’m “into” the show. Not when the basic premise makes me laugh and/or roll my eyes, depending on the situation.  I just can’t get on board with the super-secret government conspiracies. Not that governments don’t lie to their people – history, for one, says otherwise, and I know enough of human nature for another – but the fact is you cannot keep a secret between that many people for that long. Someone would blow the whistle eventually, either purposefully or accidentally. You can’t kill everyone.

That and, though magically omniscient (and able to clear top-secret lab facilities in point six seconds), they cannot, for some reason, kill off Mulder and Scully, despite the fact that Mulder commonly breaks into secret government facilities whose military personnel should be trained (and legally allowed) to remove trespassers with extreme prejudice. The last time I checked the military doesn’t laugh off breaking-and-entering. They don’t even yell. I’m pretty sure they just shoot. Mind you, if they did, the show would go something like this:

I’ve actually come up with my own pet theory about this. At first I suspected that Mulder was basically the government’s version of that crazy conspiracy-theorist Uncle everyone seems to have, the kind you humor because they served in Vietnam and Mom gives you a look across the dinner table if you don’t. Unfortunately, there are too many extraneous scenes that don’t involve our crime-fighting duo that imply otherwise. Fortunately, after Scully started cottoning on to the fact that everyone and their moms know that Mulder is extremely gullible because he wants to believe this stuff, I realized that the X-Files is the government’s version of a long-standing prank. Forget humoring the crazy Uncle, they’re going to encourage him to go on elaborate cross-country chases. Why? Because between all the political wrangling and the wars that constantly break out across the globe, it’s nice to have something to laugh about. Oh that rascal Mulder’s at it again.

My favorite episodes are the straight-up monster-of-the-week mashups. The season starts off with two aliens are among us episodes, which were entertaining but not particularly frightening, so I thought I was in for a long wait until we got to teeth falling into the sink. But then the third episode started in. Camera focuses on people. Camera focuses on an empty storm drain. Camera focuses on people. Back to the empty storm drain. At this point you know the storm drain isn’t empty, but I still wasn’t prepared for that moment when you suddenly realize there are eyes – in fact, an entire man – standing in that drain. I watch the X Files after the sun has gone down, alone and with the lights out, but that episode drove me out of the room to the kitchen (where I made myself a smoothie, as any creeped out person would do). I watched the rest of the episode with the light on. I’m going to need to get safety locks for all my toilets.

Special shout-outs to the two episodes that surprised me: the logging one and the Montana one. First off: Eco terrorists. And not romantic we-love-nature-and-we’re-totally-nice-guys-the-rest-of-you-evil-tree-cutting-capitalists-suck terrorists. Both loggers and tree huggers ended up hoisted on their own petards, as it were, and I appreciated the fair shake. Same thing on the one set in Montana. I was immediately on my guard anyways, and I stared rather suspiciously at the screen when it started off as a Rancher vs. Reservation situation, but that ended up being an interesting background to the real story. I particularly appreciated the rancher’s son’s speech on life and death, and the proper pronunciation of “coyote”: “Kai-oat,” not “Kai-yo-tee,” in these parts. Even if his dad did pull out a few “this heres” and “git goin’s.”

(Also, Mulder shot off the snout of a stuffed bear; I don’t know why I thought this was so funny, but I did.)