I Want To Believe: A Dialogue About Media, Narrative, Nostalgia, and The X-Files

X-files, David Duchoveny

XFilesSeason10Vol1CoverThe X-Files: Season 10,  Vol. 1

Joe Harris (W)
Carlos Valenzuela (A)
December 31, 2013


Ginnis Tonik: Okay, I have to admit I have tried mightily to finish Seasons 8 and 9, but never could. I mean, Mulder and Scully, they’ve just got such a great dynamic, and any time I watch Robert Patrick, I’m like “KILL THE T-1000!!!!!” Well, maybe the comic and the new stuff coming out will force me to watch the final two seasons.

Kate Tanski: I’m actually in the same boat re: finishing the series. As I told all of Twitter, it’s my firm belief that anything after Duchovny left didn’t really happen (especially the baby), so I am going into this with the earlier seasons (and my nostalgia) heavily shaping my expectations, but, like Mulder…I want to believe? So I think I just found my role.

Gin: I think the comic is missing one important thing: it needs to play the theme song when I open it up. Kind of like those Hallmark cards that play Taylor Swift songs.

Oh, wait, did we decide yet who is going to play Mulder or Scully?

Kate: Yes, why don’t we have the technology to play sound with comics? Like, embedded music? Surely this code exists? I guess we’ll have to do this the old-fashioned way–with the appropriate YouTube link.

Are you getting in the mood, Scully?

Gin: Yes, I am feeling quite skeptical about this first volume.

Kate: Please do elaborate. 

Gin: Well, Mulder, I know you always want to believe, but this first issue is giving me the sort of skepticism I felt when reading the comics Seasons 8-9 of Buffy. Like, maybe the format, because it allows for so much, results in it going so far otherworld that it loses its groundedness. Make any sense?

Kate: Scully, I know it might be difficult to believe, but isn’t that the great potential of comics?

Gin: Yes, but I like the sense of possibility in the show. And this felt like a mashup of all the X-File common themes in one: weird religious stuff! aliens! governmental conspiracy! smokes-a-lot-man!

Kate: *clears throat* The Cigarette-Smoking Man.

Gin: Whatever, Mulder, why do you believe in it so much?

Kate: I think for all of the reasons that you disliked it. Mulder and Scully are back, but so are so many other characters who were unjustly killed off in the TV series. It doesn’t feel like a greatest hits to me. It feels like an attempt to right wrongs. (I almost put write wrongs, but that’s accruate as well).

Gin: But is a new series/continuation (in any format) for a fictional series a space to right its wrongs? Sometimes when this sort of thing happens, I wonder where it becomes just responding to fandom instead of trying out new kinds of storytelling. I mean these things don’t have to be separate, but I think, too often, instead of say killing off beloved characters to make room for new characters and expand the verse, it goes back to, well, like you said, playing greatest hits. How is this different?

Kate: I like to think of it as a story becoming too big for a medium–in this instance, the medium of television. Maybe it is motivated by nostalgia and a desire to make money, since Buffy Season 8 proved that it was a viable option for storytellers. However, whether it succeeds or fails, whether it’s “canon” or not–those are questions that lie outside of whether the story can work in this other medium, and I think it does.

Gin: Okay, Mulder, I am listening. Why do you think it works?

Kate: Well, Scully, for one, the scope of the story was always global. You could even argue that it was always bigger than global–it was universal, as in, dealing with the nature of the universe and the existence of extraterrestrials, and Season 10 picks up where the movies and series left off in that respect. I don’t think you can tell the story of the X-Files without having ridiculous locations and trans-governmental conspiracies, and those are expensive in terms of television or cinematic costs. Shifting the medium to comics is a fiscally cheaper option, but also the only medium I can think of that also preserves that, as opposed to say, a radio play.

Gin: I think maybe what I hope to see out of it is a balance of that sort of universal scope with the more local scope that the show often did. Both X-Files and Buffy would have a series long Big Bad, but break up that story with episodes in less epic scenarios, so you got to experience the characters in a different way. I think sometimes when the scope is so epic it loses the human focus, the more quotidian character development which I am just partial to. I think my Buffy experience is highly influencing my experience of the X-Files comic….

Kate: Since I never read Buffy, I can’t speak to that, but I think the point is valid. I would’ve liked to see more domesticity since they have the time to do it now. I want to linger with these characters that I love. And now that they have just announced a miniseries reunion for The X-Files, I’m really curious how that is going to affect the continuity of these comics.

Gin: I was wondering about that when I read it. Will this be canon like the Buffy comics that came out as actual seasons or not? Especially considering, like you mentioned, that in comics you aren’t limited by a special effects budget–if this was canon, how might they translate it to the miniseries?

Kate: A lot of CGI. And I think they would struggle getting the full cast we see in the comic back for the miniseries, although I would hold out hope for seeing three particular cast members return.

Gin: And who might that be???

Kate: Spoilers 😉

Gin: Fine, but, one thing I really appreciated was that this really felt like Scully’s story not Mulder with Scully along for the ride. She is the one that gets them back on the X-Files. Despite Scully’s awesomeness, X-Files, the show was more often about Mulder than Scully. What about you? What did you think of the gender dynamics at play?

Kate: I agree that it was a good thing we started and finished with Scully, because that was how the Pilot started and finished as well. She was always intended to be our touchstone, and I feel that the television show, particularly in the later seasons, became myopically focused on Mulder. I mean, don’t get me wrong–Mulder’s great, and he has crazy adventures. But it’s like what I said at the beginning–this feels like an attempt at righting wrongs and refocusing on Scully and their equal (even ideal) partnership.

Gin: Good point about episode one beginning and ending with Scully, but the twist here is that she is more the believer than Mulder. A believer in the X-Files, I should say, while Mulder is clearly shown as more hesitant. She’s still got that characteristic skepticism, but she has more faith in the X-Files I think than Mulder does. Maybe it’s just that Scully tends to put more faith in systems than Mulder?

Kate: I think that Scully puts her faith in Mulder, and she’s now experienced firsthand that sometimes these conspiracies are actually conspiracies. It’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you, you know?

Gin: Right, but while Mulder would see that as a reason to not be back in line with the FBI, Scully does. Like why Scully, despite her skepticism, was generally comfortable with organized religion like Catholicism. I think she has a lot more faith in these sort of human organized systems than Mulder does. He’s got that very macho lone wolf thing going on, and it’s not that I think Scully is some sort of follower, but she’s pragmatic, I guess is what I think.

Kate: I’d agree with that, and also that it seems like Scully feels that however flawed, these institutions can offer a measure of protection, whether that be spiritual or practical, and survival is more important than principle.

Gin: Yeah, that hits it on the head better than pragmatist. And if you were about to say without Scully, Mulder would be toast, I would have to agree.

Kate: …I was going to say that, yes, because Mulder has never had much of a survival instinct, bless his heart.

Gin: Oh, Kate, this little Southern Lush so appreciates your correct usage of “bless your heart.”

Kate: I spent two years in Atlanta, and I took with me the use of “bless your heart” and a love of sweet tea. But back to the comic…I repeat what I said before. I want to believe, if for no other reason than the continuation of a series like this means that when my current beloved series are off the air far, far in the future, this might present a way for them to stick around. I, like Mulder, am a closet hopeless romantic.

Gin: Well, I think I am in the same boat, Kate. Because I still read the Buffy series even though it entirely went off the rails in some ways, but X-Files is just one of those shows like Buffy that always stokes my fangurl. If they are just looking to get money, well hell, they already got mine.

Kate: Aha! Like Scully you are NOT the hardened skeptic you wanted me to believe you were.

Gin: No, I suppose not. I just needed a Mulder to convince me.

Kate Tanski

Kate Tanski

Recovering academic. Fangirl. Geek knitter.

One thought on “I Want To Believe: A Dialogue About Media, Narrative, Nostalgia, and The X-Files

  1. I just read the first trade of this and re-watched some episodes from season 3 after avoiding the series for so many years. The news of the relaunch excited me that much, despite mostly thinking it is better to look to the show’s successors on the air than revisit it.

    I liked the comic going into it, but by the end of 5 issues I still don’t want the quagmire that was the mythology. I like Joe Harris (I really liked his series Great Pacific) but I don’t really think it’s worth moving to an updated time.

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