Updated on September 21, 2016
The show officially begins! We launch ourselves into the real rhythm of the show by giving Scully a haircut and starting a pattern of helping Mulder’s reliability by drugging him. It also introduces us to a Beloved Supporting/Guest Character, and provides some iconic images.
Let me start by addressing a pretty important issue, and since this is the first time the opening credits played, it’s a good time to get it out of the way: The remastered files, for blu-ray and Netflix and such, are not only adjusted for today’s widescreen TVs, but also the fonts changed.
I’m not the only one who has noticed this, and in fact this post shows a number of differences and explains the reasons. In the end, it’s not the big X-File I was hoping it’d be, but it makes for an interesting note. From a nostalgic perspective, it actually throws me out of my moment a lot, since not only did the font change, but it changed to something that wasn’t available in 1993.
All right, so into the episode itself. In theory, it’s about Colonel Budahas, an Air Force test pilot who goes a little goofy and gets whisked away by the government for a few months, which is what catches Mulder’s interest. Col. Budahas isn’t very important. His wife, however…
If you recognize her from somewhere, it’s probably because Gabrielle Rose is credited with 155 credits on IMDB and you probably know here from a few things. To me, whenever she pops up in a one-off episode in some show probably filmed in Vancouver, I say, “It’s Mrs. Budahas!” I’ll even admit, I had to find her IMDB page by first going to this episode’s page and finding her in the cast. I don’t know if I’ll remember her actual name after this. She’s just Mrs. Budahas to me, and seeing her always makes me feel warm and happy. That nostalgia, it’s strong with me.
Oh, also Seth Green’s in this episode.
The episode builds on the foundation set in the pilot, as Scully remarks a few times on how she is going to write this up in her reports. She’s up for looking into why the USAF is holding a pilot without any word to his family for four months, but she is Not Impressed when UFOs become part of the conversation. Super cute moment when Mulder buys a photo of a UFO from a roadside diner, and Scully Doesn’t Approve.
You really get the idea that on this trip, she’s really starting to wonder just what she’s gotten herself into.
One odd bit of, well, it’s not exactly nostalgia, but it’s certainly a signal of the times, is how phones are used. Specifically, the fact that right now, they aren’t using cell phones. Scully doesn’t give Mrs. Budahas her cell number, she tells her what motel they’re staying at, and Scully goes to the front desk for messages. She gets an idea about who to call, and she picks up a phone book. And really, imagine if they had a smart phone to capture video of those lights in the sky over Ellen’s AFB? I feel this a lot when watching TV shows from the 90s — but oddly, I don’t feel it while watching anything older. I don’t think cell phones were really taken for granted until the early 2000s, so I’m not sure why it feels so funny to see early- or mid-90s media to not have them. But it does! I like it, though. It feels innocent, which is probably one of the purest feelings of nostalgia.
At one point, the agents drop off Seth Green and his girlfriend, and Mulder says, in a moment of being a Hip Fed, “Later, dude!” to Green’s character. I mention this because at some point (definitely in college my freshman year and maybe before in high school) I had a sound theme on my Windows 98 PC that used XF .wavs for the system sounds, and shutting down my computer gave me a “Later, dude!” every time. Whenever I hear that, it sends me back to life with a big CRT monitor and a wired keyboard and mouse with a ball. (I found cleaning the lint from that ball very satisfying.)
I can’t end this recap without touching on the name of the episode, which is for a character who only appears briefly, but has some Important Things to say, and of course becomes so important to the rest of the show. Portrayed by Jerry Hardin, we get our meeting of Deep Throat.
It’s funny how much we loved Deep Throat. He wasn’t really in that many episodes. But he cares about Mulder, in his own way. We’ll see him again, and we can watch how this relationship develops. I got to see Jerry Hardin at DragonCon in 2015 (on a panel with Nic Lea, gosh, it was so great), and he’s just such a Kindly Ol’ Grampa. I love him to bits.
“They’re here, aren’t they?”
“Mr. Mulder, they’ve been here for a long, long time.”
Ultimately, “Deep Throat” isn’t, on its own, a magnificent episode. And even though it’s considered a “mytharc” episode, it’s probably a tentative link at best. Deep Throat’s presence is what really ties it to the greater mythology. But that’s all right, because it’s early days still. Next up is our first Monster of the Week (MOTW) episode, “Squeeze”, and gosh it’s a good start to the type of episode that will keep this show going for 200+ episodes.
Updated on September 10, 2016
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.
Updated on September 8, 2016
I have been trying for years to get this blog going. I’ve tried to find a theme, I’ve tried to treat it like my old LiveJournal, I’ve tried to do a lot of things that just didn’t work. And that’s all right. Clearly it just wasn’t the right time for it to work.
When I began planning my X-Files Rewatch project, one thing I thought about a lot was WHERE to do it: here on this blog, on a subdomain, should I get a whole new domain, or maybe do it on Tumblr? There were benefits to everything, but I decided to just integrate it with my main blog because I hoped that if the XFRW posts started to draw a consistent audience, then maybe they’d be interested in other things I wanted to blog about. If, y’know, I ever wrote anything else.
Which is where the love to John & Sherry comes in. They run Young House Love, a blog about home DIY renovation and more, and ran it for 7 years until September 2014, when they stopped and stepped away for a whole year. They now will post occasionally, and they’ve started a weekly podcast. This week’s episode (#14) was dedicated to a speech they gave at a recent conference, talking about why they quit the blog for a year, and how others can maybe avoid having to do that themselves. Now, I am not running a blog that posts every day — or even consistently every month! — but some of what they said really hit me as someone who is starting a long-term blogging project. Especially as someone who gets easily discouraged when I don’t get the hits or comments I’d like.
They talked about deciding your purpose for doing it, and keeping that in mind when things get difficult. About how your goals of hits or comments or whatever can be good and even important, but that you should be feeding your purpose most of all. That you should be selfish, not worry quite so much about what your readers want, not if those things make you unhappy. They reminded us to be more than the blog, and allow ourselves to exist beyond the words on the page.
It’s an important reminder to me. My purpose with this project is to revisit a show I loved. Period. If I get to talk to people about it, then that’s great! But ultimately, this is something I want to do for me, to give myself something to post consistently. It’s a way to write consistently, too, without the pressure I feel of having to Be A Writer. It’s about helping find fun again. (Perhaps it’s no coincidence that I probably had my most fun as a writer in XF fanfic.)
J&S reminded us to experiment and stretch ourselves creatively, and to let that guide our path. This project is different than anything I’ve ever done, and even writing up the posts I’ve already done has been a self-inspiration to want to write other posts, too. Like this one! Maybe this will help me write a post about the Riveters that Joe at Blueshirts Banter has been pressing me to write.
So, I thank you, John and Sherry. I’m not a DIYer, I don’t even decorate my apartment. But I’ve been reading your blog since Clara was a little bean and you lived in your first house. I’m glad you’re found your purpose again, and I’m grateful for your willingness to share your successes and mistakes and help your readers (and now listeners!) to make their blogging lives as smooth and satisfying as possible.