My obsession with The X-Files reached its height in Season 4. Every Sunday I’d park myself in front of my TV/VCR combo and record new episodes, keeping the remote handy so I could pause for commercials. Then I would label the tape using my Brother brand label-maker and go on Usenet to read internet spoilers (carefully avoiding all the “Why does Moulder put an X on his window?” posts).
(This was actually not the dorkiest thing I did in Junior High School. I also had a Conan O’Brien fan site.)
That was, of course, a long LONG time ago. How did my beloved Season 4 fare in the epic adult research? Pretty good, all things considered. A few observations:
Skinner Was SO Much Cooler Than You Remember
Mr. Max says that Mulder is like the Harry Potter of The X-Files, because Harry Potter is the perfect example of a lame hero. Even though the books always made mention of how awesome and “chosen” he was, he 1) never did anything cool or impressive and 2) only ever survived based on luck, not skill or brains. Those books should have been called “Hermione and Ron and that helpless dork who got all the credit.”
In 1996, I loved Mulder. Now that I’m older and wiser, I can see that I was wrong; Mulder is lame and annoying. Skinner is the real hero; he doesn’t take shit from the shadowy conspiracy guys, he sends Mulder home when he’s being a pain in the ass, and he actually knows how fight (not just get beaten up). I can’t help but imagine the show with Skinner as Scully’s partner, and Mulder as a quirky conspiracy nut side character — perhaps the 4th Lone Gunman.
And it would’ve been awesome.
They Should’ve Stopped Trying To Make Marita Happen
Despite ample screen time and low-cut blouses, Mulder’s Season 4 informant Marita is a total snoozefest. It wasn’t Laurie Holden’s fault – all they ever had her do was walk down hallways with a file folder in her hands.
Yes, let’s give her the personality of a file clerk. It doesn’t matter because boobs!
The Scully Thing Was Melodramatic
Back in the day, the Scully-Has-Cancer plotline seemed really intense! and smart! and dramatic! On rewatch, it felt like General Hospital Sweeps Week with aliens. There are also some issues with realism — Scully spends the season oscillating between grave illness and healthful sprinting depending on what’s convenient for a particular episode. I may not be a MEDICAL Doctor like Scully, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works.
Best and Worst
The quintessential X-Files episode for non-fans is Small Potatoes, which details the exploits of a shape-shifting loser with a tail. X-Files white whale writer Darin Morgan even puts in a memorable lead performance as the aforementioned loser, Eddie Van Blundht,
The honor of worst episode goes to El Mundo Gira. You could probably guess from the title that this is one of those X-Files episodes where they crap all over a cultural myth. Like all of the episodes in this genre, it manages to be both boring and offensive.
This particular scene was so borffensive I fell asleep and woke up demanding an apology.
That’s all until season 5!