So, we’ll start from the beginning. Which, oddly enough given how I watch TV now, which was not actually my beginning with this show. Honestly, I can’t remember exactly where in the process I watched the pilot episode. There was no Netflix or On Demand when I started watching, and there weren’t even DVD sets yet. When you started a show late, you had to wait until the syndication came back around to start from the beginning! These days, I prefer to start from the first episode of something. I don’t know if TV is just created to have every episode watched in order now simply because we can start from the beginning and we don’t need to make it easy to join at any time, or if I’ve just come to prefer to do it that way. I feel like it might be the former, though — TV has changed, because TV is easier now.
(For the record, the first episode I saw was from Season 2, and I started watching regularly in Season 4.)
Anyway, the fact that this pilot episode wasn’t, really, a pilot for me, it definitely puts a different spin on my emotions attached to it and how I remember it. There’s still that happy moment when we’re first introduced to Our Heroes, and when they are introduced to each other, but while I know That’s When They Met, for me they had known each other a long time already.
I guess it’s sort of like when you really start to get to know someone you’re close to, and you start to see their pictures from when they were growing up, when you visit their parents and you hear stories about what they were like in high school. You know this person, you know how to relate to them, know what to expect from them, but you start learning the backstory and things start to really make sense. You see their dad’s goofy humor and their mom’s patient smiles, and it’s like, oh, this is why my friend is this awesome person. It all makes sense.
That’s how the pilot episode has always felt to me. It’s this extra bit of information that tells me, oh, yes, this is why they’re like this. From Mulder’s first explanation of his sister’s abduction, to Scully’s embrace of scientific rigor, down to a certain shadowy figure’s bad smoking habit — as often as you see all of this over the next 10 seasons, this is where it started, where everything was first laid out.
And, essentially, that’s what truly makes this episode so rewatchable. The story itself is pretty meh, especially as the details of the abductions are ultimately ignored for almost seven full seasons’ worth of alien conspiracy episodes. But it’s Mulder and Scully meeting and getting to know each other that is an absolute delight in coming back after seeing the rest of their time together.
Even in their first real discussion/argument, there’s such great chemistry.
SCULLY: Logically, I would have to say “no.” Given the distances needed to travel from the far reaches of space, the energy requirements would exceed a spacecraft’s capabilties th…
MULDER: Coventional wisdom. You know this Oregon female? She’s the fourth person in her graduating class to die under mysterious circumstances. Now, when convention and science offer us no answers, might we not finally turn to the fantastic as a plausibility?
SCULLY: The girl obviously died of something. If it was natural causes, it’s plausible that there was something missed in the post-mortem. If she was murdered, it’s plausible there was a sloppy investigation. What I find fantastic is any notion that there are answers beyond the realm of science. The answers are there. You just have to know where to look.
MULDER: That’s why they put the “I” in “F.B.I.”
It’s a great set-up for how they will relate to each other. And it goes along very well with the mosquito bites scene, which could have absolutely been sexualized or played out more silly. It’s not, though. Scully is scared and Mulder addresses her fear and doesn’t make a comment on how she disrobes down to her undies in front of him. I also love how there’s just the briefest moment of hesitation in Scully, that she knows this might be a mistake but her need to know the truth is bigger. For both of them, a lot of this whole series is one big disrobing despite their fear.
To end on an appropriately nostalgic note, here’s this bit of nerdy self-history. During the episode, you may recall that as Mulder and Scully are driving down a road, the radio does some funky stuff, and Mulder pulls aside to mark that spot:
Well, nearly 10 years later, I was visiting one of my friends for the (at the time) series finale so we could cry together. Brie told me there was a road near her where there was a big ol’ “X” painted on the road! So, naturally, we headed over there and took pictures with this “X”.
You wish you were as cool as we were, don’t lie.
So that’s the start of The X-Files, and the start of this blog series, officially! Coming next will be “Deep Throat”, and if you haven’t seen the episode, no it isn’t about that.