Television Nostalgia – Television’s finest partnership – My favourite Mulder & Scully moments in The X-Files
With the possibility of a return for Agents Mulder and Scully on television, which I certainly hope is true, I’ve recently revisited some of my favourite episodes of this brilliant series. As my favourite television show since I first watched it aged 12, I’ve always found myself returning to my favourite episodes at times when life gets a bit tough and you need something familiar to calm you and provide that escapism that a trusty show or a beloved book manage to provide.
So, in need of some escapism from real life and following all this exciting speculation, I’ve been looking back at the moments of the series between Fox Mulder and Dana Scully that I’ve never forgotten. Watching the show, I was always quite envious of their friendship, which is one that is so strong and immutable. No matter what happened, or what traumas or tragedies they each faced, they always knew that the other would be there for them, to provide that unwavering support. It’s what sets them apart for me, as the best partnership on television – yes they were destined to be together, but it was always the uniquely close friendship that I loved. There are so many wonderful moments between them over the series, but these are my favourite.
1. Mulder visits Scully’s bedside (One Breath)
This scene from my favourite episode of the series has always been a memorable one. Scully’s abduction was quite a shocking plotline at the time and her return in such a seemingly hopeless condition allowed the writers to create some very emotional moments for David Duchovny. Mulder spends the episode consumed with fighting to find out what’s happened to his friend, when really all he really needs to do is to sit with her. This scene in which he visits her in hospital and tells her he’s there for her is wonderfully acted and highlighted how important to him Scully had become and is then followed by the touching scene in which Mulder breaks down in his apartment as all seems utterly beyond hope. This story arc may have been unplanned until Gillian’s pregnancy, but I’m so pleased the writers made these brave choices so early, as Scully’s abduction became such a hugely vital part of the series.
2. Mulder teaches Scully to play baseball (The Unnatural)
In David Duchovny’s writing and directorial debut for the series, we get to see a lighter and more fun side to Mulder and Scully here. After a rather unusual story about the joys of baseball, we see Mulder teach a sceptical Scully how to play, something which she actually finds she enjoys. It’s a sweet, tender moment between the two, as they inch ever nearer to being more than just friends. It’s also one of the more lighthearted endings to an X-Files episode and always makes me smile.
3. The hallway scene (Momento Mori)
I seem to enjoy the emotionally charged hospital scenes in the series and this incredibly moving moment from series four’s Momento Mori is one of the best moments between Mulder and Scully for me and encompasses so much of what makes their bond special and the series so successful. Gillian Anderson deservedly won an [Emmy] for her work this year, which centred on Scully’s battle with cancer and she is truly brilliant in this episode, conveying all the anger, fear and emotion that must go through you if you have to experience something so frightening. This moment in the hospital, in which Mulder waits outside Penny Northern’s room, knowing his friend will need him there, even if she probably wouldn’t have asked him, is so beautifully written and acted. Scully is determined to fight and Mulder makes it clear he will be by her side every step of the way. Depending on my mood I can get quite teary-eyed watching this scene.
4. Chatting while “stranded” on a rock (Quagmire)
Quagmire is such a wonderful little episode in which a Loch Ness-style sea monster may or may not exist in America, Scully’s beloved dog (although not loved by Mulder) meets a tragic end and Mulder and Scully end up “marooned” on a rock after their boat sinks in the middle of the night. It’s a rare chance for them to talk about topics other than work and in that respect is quite a refreshing scene. I love how Scully is surprised and impressed by his knowledge of Moby Dick and his joke about her losing weight, which she soon realises is less of a compliment than she first thought is very amusing. David and Gillian are both fantastic at comedy and it’s nice that every so often they had the opportunity to play scenes like this one, in between the more serious myth-arcs.
5. Scully falls asleep on Mulder’s couch (All things)
A more romantically slanted moment here from the first script written and directed by Gillian Anderson, which also seemingly finally signposts the turn in their relationship from friends to lovers. Scully has been on quite an emotional journey over the course of this episode and it’s Mulder who is there for her when she needs him most. This moment, as she falls asleep on his couch and his obvious love and affection for her is so genuinely lovely and perfectly played by both actors.
6. Scully breaks down (Irresistible)
Series two remains my favourite of the series (with series four a close second) and it contained some truly brilliant episodes, including this chilling story of Donnie Pfaster, the death fetishist. It’s one of the first times we see Scully in peril and how much Mulder is effected by it. It’s also a crucial turning point in their friendship, as it’s here where Scully lets herself break down in front of him for the first time and allow him to comfort her when she needs it the most.
7. Celebrating Scully’s birthday (Tempus Fugit)
The main story of this series four two-parter may have been rather tough, dealing with the aftermath of a plane crash and the death of Max Fenig, last seen in series one’s Fallen Angel, but it did contain this lovely scene. Mulder and Scully haven’t been seen much by this point doing everyday activities and their birthdays haven’t been mentioned in any significant way. That perhaps makes this scene, in which Mulder surprises / embarrasses Scully on her birthday with a sparkling dessert and gift, all the more special. These moments don’t come around too often so they are even more of a treat to watch when they do. I also always loved the gesture behind the gift – it may only be a cheap keychain, but Mulder’s reason for giving it to her, is so lovely (whether he admits it or not)!
8. Mulder visits a sleeping Scully (Redux II)
Back to the hospitals and angst galore for moment number eight, in which Scully’s battle with her illness seems to be one she cannot win. As hidden enemies and uncertain allies gather around Mulder, swaying him to choose a path that he may not necessarily want, while facing the unimaginable reality of losing the closest person in his life, he comes to seek comfort and solace at the only place he can – Scully’s bedside. Watching him watch her sleep, you can almost read his thoughts as he tries to imagine her no longer being in his life and seeing him silently crumble is incredibly moving and beautifully acted by David Duchovny. It certainly tugs at my heartstrings whenever I watch it.
9. “You were my constant” (The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati)
The opening episodes to series six aren’t one of my favourite stories. However it was lovely to see Mulder and Scully reaffirm their support and affection for each other in this scene, with Mulder admitting that when his world was falling apart, through everything, it is Scully that has been his “constant, his touchstone”, to which she replies that he is hers. As if every fan of the show didn’t know that already!
10. “Maybe there’s hope” (The Truth)
I watched the last episode of the series with a heavy heart in 2002. I’m still not really satisfied with The Truth as a climax and I certainly hope that any revival will bring further closure than this trial-centred episode tried to do. However, the heart of the series was always the chemistry between Duchovny and Anderson and even stories I am less keen on often contain moments that I love and despite what went before, this scene in a dark motel room, echoing the scene in the very first episode, is a genuinely wonderful moment. It honours the past and all they have been through together, while laying the foundations for the future – one in which hope is their shining light.
11. The dancing (Post Modern Prometheus)
The fact that Mulder and Scully’s relationship remained platonic for so long only heightened fans excitement when there was even the slightest possibility of something more and one of these moments is when Mulder asks Scully to dance with him to Cher’s Walking In Memphis. Post Modern Prometheus is a totally unique episode, which has a special charm and this is a wonderful way to end it. It’s another hopeful, happy scene, in which we see the less serious side of these two characters and it being in black and white lends it an added air of old fashioned romance.
12. Their last scene (so far…!) (I Want To Believe)
I was rather disappointed by the second X-Files film. After looking forward to it for so long and having such high hopes, the story of body swapping Frankenstein-like science was a bit of a let down. However, despite the plot’s weaknesses, it was still utterly fantastic to have Mulder and Scully back on the screen and David and Gillian certainly hadn’t let years away from these iconic roles lessen their chemistry. It’s a rocky path through this film for them and by the end I had my fingers crossed for something positive and hopeful to finish with and this lovely scene didn’t disappoint. Perfectly acted, shot and with a gorgeous piece of score by Mark Snow it makes the film worth watching for me.
13. Lost in the woods (Detour)
After the trauma and emotion of the Redux opener, it was nice to have our favourite FBI agents back out on an X-File, albeit one they happen to stumble in to. I’ve always liked Detour. Mulder’s distain for team building and wine and cheese receptions is very funny and there’s lots of opportunity to have Mulder and Scully back in the field again. It’s the scene in the woods though that makes my list of favourite moments. Despite the danger of their situation, it’s light and funny, as let’s face it by this point they’ve already faced so much anyway, what’s a potentially deadly creature in the woods going to do! It’s also more flirty, which was always entertaining to watch – shame it didn’t rain sleeping bags!
14. “Nobody down here but the FBI’s most unwanted.” (Pilot)
The first meeting of Mulder and Scully had to be on this list and it’s such a great scene. Mulder playfully pushes her buttons, testing the type of person she is and seeing that Scully is a strong, intelligent and independent woman, who will not be intimidated by his tactics. It’s also fizzing with chemistry, which David and Gillian had from the very beginning and you sense that this is going to be something special. It makes me nostalgic every time I watch it.
15. The (in)famous hallway scene (The X-Files: Fight The Future)
I will always remember the first time I watched this scene. It was at a preview screening of the film, in a cinema filled with X-Philes and at this moment the loud shouting was mad! Half the cinema screaming “Do it!” and the other half screaming “No!” – I’ve never experienced anything like it in a cinema since! Let’s face it this was a huge moment for the series and the characters and speculation as to whether they would finally get together was rife by the time the film opened. It’s a brilliantly created scene by Chris Carter and his team, building the anticipation up, only to dash it at the last moment due to a bee! It was exactly the right choice. As much as I wanted to see these two finally admit their feelings, there was always something special about their friendship that I didn’t want to see change.
So those are my favourite 15 Mulder and Scully moments. It was certainly difficult to keep myself to just 15 and on a different day the list may also have included either of their reflections on the office scene in Bad Blood, Mulder meeting Emily Sim at the children’s home, Scully threatening Mulder in Wetwired, Mulder arriving at the Senate subcommittee hearing in Terma, their farewell moment in Dreamland II when they think they will never meet again and the Russian roulette scene from Pusher. I’d love to hear which moments other fans love. It’s also thrilling to think what new moments we might be enjoying if the revival really does happen! All my fingers are certainly crossed!