Mulder and Scully, the Greatest Love Story of all Time

Photo copyright of 20thCentFox/ courtesy Everett Collection

Photo copyright of 20thCentFox/ courtesy Everett Collection

The new series of the X-Files is out and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t re-watch the entire nine series and two films in preparation. It may have taken me the best part of six months but it was worth it and I can now report from a place of authority that the X-Files is the Greatest Love Story of All Time.  

The chemistry is there from the very start, from that pilot episode with Scully shivering in the rain in that Canadian forest they loved to shoot in when Mulder asks her if she thinks he’s crazy and she definitely does but you can tell she admires his passion and they’re both dripping wet and it’s quite sexy. And let’s not forget the bit in the motel where Scully strips down to her undies to show Mulder some mosquito bites she’s worried about. And when Mulder, emboldened by the intimacy of the setting, tells her all about the abduction of his sister Samantha in his slow, soft drawl.

Then in the Jersey Killer episode there’s Scully’s dull date, and Mulder’s sneering question about whether she’s seeing the guy again, and his obvious glee when she says ‘no.’ This is followed by a mean comment about her not having a life, because of course you only rib people you madly fancy.

There’s Scully’s barely concealed jealousy when Mulder’s old flame from England turns up from Scotland Yard all fiery and posh and snogs his face off.  And then Scully’s open suspicion of that awful Diana Fowley, Mulder’s other old flame who drops in to ruin things in the first Gibson Praise episode in Season 5 then doesn’t go away for ages. Fowley is the opposite of Scully - she strokes Mulder’s ego and agrees with him on everything, and Mulder - being a very fallible human who is in every way weaker and less cool than Scully - succumbs to her. The Diana Fowley Intrusion almost ends when she gets shot by an alien bounty hunter but of course it’s too good to be true and nobody ever really dies on the X-files, so by season 6 Diana is back.

Diana Fowley is particularly unwelcome in season 6 because between the end of season 5 and the beginning of 6 we had the first film, Fight the Future, and the bee moment. I’m sure you remember it very clearly because it was so splendidly beautifully cheesy and if you’re like me your eyes leaked ever so slightly, but just in case:

In the corridor of Mulder’s apartment Scully tells him she’s packing the whole lot in and he begs her not to because in spite of their huge differences it is Scully’s skepticism that has kept him honest. She makes him whole, and he doesn’t want to continue if she’s not in it with him. The fires light up and they're about to kiss when Scully is stung by an evil bee that infects her with the black oil virus, and is whisked away by syndicate baddies to an alien ship in Antarctica where she is incubated in a vat of horrible slime until Mulder rescues her.

Then season 6 begins and it’s as if the almost-kiss never almost happened!

Mulder and Scully are removed from the X-Files and sneaky old Fowley, recovered from her bullet to the chest, is partnered up with pigheaded Jeffrey Spender* to take over. Mulder is furious with Fowley and it seems like he and Scully are about to get it on again but then Fowley gets her claws back in by secretly allowing Mulder access to the crime scenes and letting him in on the X-files. She prises him away from Scully and there are cross words between Mulder and Scully over Diana’s trustworthiness (Scully still hates Fowley, Mulder thinks Scully is being unprofessional.)

Then in a scene where Mulder has psychic powers and Fowley knows it, she thinks something along the lines of ‘I love you and now we can be together’ so that he can hear it in his mind, and we hate her more than ever but we’re beginning to doubt ourselves because Fowley does seem to care about him. Then there’s the glorious revelation that Fowley is in the employ of the nefarious Cigarette Smoking Man, and we’re allowed to hate her again. Things get particularly horrible for Mulder+Scully=love believers in the episode where Mulder, lying on a metal slab getting a lobotomy while Fowley and the Cancer Man look over him, goes to a special place in his mind and lives out a whole new life during which he marries and has kids with that blasted Fowley woman.

When Scully rescued Mulder and then visited him at his apartment to tell him Diana Fowley had been killed, I turned to my boyfriend and said ‘Thank God Diana Fowley’s dead’ and I honestly meant it. Even though it was Fowley who led Scully to him and in so doing she had given her life for him. Isn’t that terrible?

They’ve always been flirtatious but in seasons 6 and 7 they have a very tender, loving friendship. Mulder finally accepts his sister is dead, and Scully is there for him. Scully, who has suffered terribly since joining the X-files (abduction by aliens, cancer as a result of alien tests, murder of her sister, inability to conceive, death of her adoptive daughter), has a last-ditch attempt at pregnancy as Mulder has found some of her ova at a dodgy clinic and her doctor thinks there’s a chance artificial insemination could work. Rather than go for an anonymous donor, she asks her old pal Mulder to be the dad. All of the attempts fail and Mulder is there for her in her hour of sadness. Then Mulder is abducted by aliens, and Scully becomes miraculously preggers despite being barren, and the implication is that Mulder might be the father.

Season 8 sees a big-bellied Scully searching for her love, and when he finally returns at the end of the season they are very definitely together. He sleeps at her house and they make the decision together that he’ll go into hiding. There is kissing at long last, but then he’s gone and Scully misses him dreadfully. Poor Scully has to deal with lots of unwanted attention for her and Mulder’s baby (they both accept that baby William is theirs so there must have been some sex at some point) and eventually gives him up for adoption.

Through all of this Mulder is still in hiding, hanging out with the now much older Gibson Praise in his bunker in the desert, and he doesn’t surface again until the final episode of season 9 when he’s arrested for killing an unkillable super-soldier and is put on trial. Mulder and Scully are finally reunited in a prison cell, where they engage in some very passionate snogging in front of an embarrassed Walter Skinner, and then Scully and the gang break Mulder out of prison. They hit the road together and drive off to find the truth, which apparently a wise man in the desert can tell them. Of course nothing is easy and very little makes sense, so the wise man is in fact the Cigarette Smoking Man and in the final moment of the final episode of the final series, old smokey gets nuked in the face** by the military and our two lovers are unscathed and there aren’t really any answers but who cares because at least Mulder and Scully are finally together!

Then the terrible second movie comes along and again they’re not really together - he’s in hiding in a little cottage still seeking the truth, she’s a doctor in a hospital, and circumstances keep them apart. Fast-forward to the supercheese moment at the end of the credits and Mulder and Scully are in a rowing boat in a clear blue sea, her in a blue bikini and white shirt, him in red swimming shorts. They both wave happily up at the camera as it flies up and away, leaving the loved-up pair to escape to a desert island where the FBI, the military, the aliens, the syndicates and the super-soldiers can’t touch them.

What happened to the lovers between the boat trip and the beginning of series 10? I never imagined life would be easy for them, and certainly never pictured them being a normal couple. Their relationship was always rocky, never conventional, rarely demonstrative and ultimately impossible, but the love was real and that’s got to live on in the new series...hasn’t it?

We’re four episodes into the new batch of files and already we know that Mulder and Scully are not an item, but they both yearn for their son William and there is undeniable affection between them. He is there for her when her mum is in hospital, and there's a tender moment where he tells her how he wished for her not to die when she was in her coma back in Season 2. But in true X-Files style they are not boyfriend-girlfriend/ husband-wife - and I like that. I think I would have been disappointed if they were.  I’m enjoying the turbulence and uncertainty: all is as it should be.

True love Mulder and Scully-style is not a tamable beast to be shackled and caged, but a prowling monster on the moors, a shadow in the attic, the hairy mammoth in the room. If it catches you looking, it disappears. If you pretend it’s not there, it eats a child. And if you ever find a scrap of hard evidence of its existence, it gets ravaged by a freak fire.