Tuesday, February 16, 2016

10 Defining Moments for Mulder/Scully [Contributor: Lizzie]

First, there were Mulder and Scully.

Then came romance and shipping and OTPs. We’ve talked about this subject before, and yet for as much as we’ve discussed Mulder/Scully as an entity, we’ve barely discussed them as an actual couple. Because, despite what Chris Carter wants to say in his revisionist history, Mulder and Scully had a romantic progression that, though slow, was always certain. In fact, you could even say that, in the world of The X-Files, it was Mulder/Scully or bust. After all, there were never any other viable prospective candidates for either of them.

They were partners first, and then friends, and then lovers — but they never stopped being one to become the other. Maybe that’s why, over twenty years after they first appeared on our TV screens, the revival of The X-Files got us as excited as a new season of any other show. For many of us, these two were our first OTP, and they remain the standard. The golden couple, if you will. The one that made all the others possible.

So join me in this journey from “platonic” to “OTP” as we count down ten defining moments in the ship that started it all. Not all of them are obvious “romantic” moments, necessarily, but I dare you to take a look at this list and agree with that platonic nonsense.

No, really. I dare you.

Scully goes to Mulder for help. (“Pilot”)

They had no reason to like each other, must less trust each other yet, but when Scully finds two suspicious looking marks in her back who does she run to? That’s right — her new partner, Fox Mulder. It seems like a little thing in the grand scheme of events that unfold later on, but it’s the moment that broke the proverbial ice. This moment took them from being two agents forced to work together to two human beings who just so happen to work for the FBI. After that, Mulder sort of opens up to Scully, and she stops seeing him like a crazy person who’s trying to wind her up.

A sick Mulder goes to Scully’s apartment. (“Anasazi”)

We jump to the season two finale, and we find our favorite duo to now be a well-oiled machine, but more importantly, friends. Real friends. Friends who defy authority to protect each other. And, of course, the type of friends who — when drugged — go to each other’s apartment. Because who else are you going to turn when you’re not in total control of yourself? Worth noting is that the scene after Mulder shows up in Scully’s apartment, he’s in his underwear, which leaves us to assume that the level of intimacy between these two has gone up to the point that Scully felt comfortable divesting him of his clothes. Which, yeah, I’m here for. I approve.

Scully grabs Mulder’s hand. (“Pusher”)

Before Olicity, before Bellarke, and before many many others, there were Mulder and Scully — the first couple that became iconic because of the chemistry between two actors and not because of the actual writing. And part of that magic are the unscripted touches and the little things that David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson added to these two characters, like this first instance of hand-holding and what it represents. Dana Scully is not a touchy-feely person, especially not at work. She’s worked very hard to get where she is, and she’s done it by being anything but the stereotypical woman. But it’s not only her comfort that she’s seeking when she reaches out for Mulder — it’s his. He’s, after all, the one just got controlled by Modell, and the one who almost shot her. (Yes, to recap: she was almost shot, and she’s comforting him. How can you not love that?)

Mulder and Scully hug. (“Memento Mori”)

If you want two characters to get closer, angst is the way to go. Or so they say. For someone who claims he wasn’t trying to get his two main characters together, Chris Carter sure threw a lot of personal angst their way during Scully’s cancer arc in seasons four through five. There are tons of moments to choose from in that whole arc — from Scully calling Mulder first when she gets the diagnosis, to Mulder losing it when Scully’s in the hospital, to her journal, and the sobbing at her bedside. And that’s without even mentioning Scully offering to take the blame for something he’s being accused of, since she’s going to die anyway, Mulder fighting until he finds the cure, and Scully believing him when he does.

But none of those moments are quite as important in the overall journey from separate entities to coupledom as the hug of absolute tenderness, love, and relief when Scully decides to return to work and keep fighting by his side.

“You’re my one in five billion.” (“Folie a Deux”)

If you need affirmation, Mulder and Scully are not the couple for you. Really, they’re not. Romantic declarations are not the norm for these two, though Mulder does like to reaffirm their bond from time to time. Scully always acts like she doesn’t need it/like it, but we know better. Mulder might not be saying "I love you," but considering the lessons of this episode, saying “You’re my one in five billion” is just as poignant. In a way, it means more than I love you. It means: "I need you. I want you. I can’t do this without you."

“You kept me honest. You made me a whole person.” (The X-Files: Fight the Future)

This is a movie, so the drama needs to be amped up. It doesn’t feel out of character, however, for Scully to think that’s she’s bringing Mulder down. She’s, after all, the one who always has a "... but." Maybe without her, he’d be better off, she tells him.

And that’s when Mulder sets her straight. Boy, does he. He starts by telling her that she’s saved him. He hasn’t always liked it, he hasn’t always appreciated it, but she’s grounded him. She’s made him a better man. And, in the most heartbreaking admission ever, he also lets out that he doesn’t feel he’s done the same for her. He doesn’t feel he’s bringing anything to the relationship. And to think: this conversation started because Scully thought he’d be better off without her.

“Even when the world was falling apart, you were my constant. My touchstone.” (“The Sixth Extinction, Part II: Amor Fati”)

It’s always Mulder with the words, even though it’s not always Mulder with the actions. This time, it's Scully rescuing him. It is Scully who needs the reassurance, and — since these two are partners in everything — though he’s still not close to 100%, it's Mulder who utters what could almost be marriage vows, and Scully the one that’s left to agree. And it’s not just the part I quoted above. It’s also this: “... my world was unrecognizable and upside down. There was one thing that remained the same. You.”

Platonic indeed.

He's adorable and happy and tentative all at once.

First kiss. (“Millennium”)

It’s not just that they kissed for the first time (that we know of, but considering the next moment, who knows what revisionist history Chris Carter might be telling tomorrow) — it’s how they looked at each other AFTERWARDS. It’s how Mulder got a little meta with his whole “the world didn’t end,” comment. It’s that they carried on as if nothing had changed, because — deep down — nothing had. They already knew.

“What if there was only one choice? And all the other choices were wrong?” (“All Things”)

The consensus is that THIS is when Mulder and Scully finally became a thing. After all, the episode ends with a shot of Scully IN Mulder’s bathroom, getting ready, while Mulder sleeps on, apparently sans clothes. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out something happened. But the actual sex scene that Chris Carter deprived us of isn’t even as important as Scully taking a walk down memory lane, exploring the what-ifs and definitively choosing Mulder, accepting him as her destiny. After all, like Mulder says, in response to the question I quoted above: “All the choices would then lead to this very moment.”

Just about every scene they have together in the series finale. (“The Truth”)

The only bright spot in season nine, this episode almost made up for Duchovny’s absence (almost). From that first somewhat-awkward reunion in jail (where Mulder calls her Dana instead of Scully as a way of warning her they’re being watched), to how they almost ignore that Skinner is right there and get to kissing as soon as they’re not being watched, to how they cannot let go of each other after (Mulder even kisses Scully’s hand like it’s nothing — like he does it every day). And, of course, there’s also how the two very literally run away together at the end, only to give us a final scene that’s so reminiscent of the first moment that it makes my heart ache. Mulder and Scully together in a nondescript hotel room. They’re even discussing the same things. Except, this time, they’re finally on the same page.

And then they just spoon, and it’s the end, but it’s not — because it’s them against the world, and we don’t know how or when, but we know they won’t give up.

BONUS SCENE: Mulder and Scully share a bed. (The X-Files: I Want to Believe)

Six years after the events of “The Truth,” Mulder and Scully are still together, and still partners. Except now, they’re what they were always meant to be — what they always were, and the show never actually allowed. They are 100% in a relationship. They joke about how well-endowed Mulder is; she complains about his scratchy beard, and he nuzzles her neck. It’s like they tore a page out of one of the fandom’s most recognizable fanfics and decided to play it out. It’s glorious, amazing, and a dream come true.

Agree? Disagree? Have a moment you think should have made the list? Share with us in the comments!


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