I’d been working on this list as one long post, but it was shaping up to be so long that I thought, there’s no way that anyone will devote the time to reading it through, so I’ve broken it down into instalments…
Warning: This series of posts is going to deal with religion, religious themes and imagery. I don’t want to upset you all, so if you ‘don’t do’ religion and have a problem with reading about religious stuff, then let’s save your time and mine and you can just skip over this. Straight up, I’m not going to get tangled up moderating negative comments and whinges about religion – so if you’re feeling the urge, just don’t.
The reason that I have always loved the X Files is primarily because of the dynamic between Mulder and Scully but also for the supernatural content, which unapologetically explored ever widening concepts and boundaries from week to week. I watched the series on network television religiously when it was fresh and new. It was something my mother and I did together every week. I’ll always love this show, like a handful of others, for that reason alone. As I’ve gotten older though, and come back to the X Files, I am surprised about how it has spoken to me as an adult, often for the way it depicts religious themes, thought and discovery. I’m one of those folks that enjoys the spiritual and the idea of ‘belief’ being a lifelong journey. Like Mulder, I want to Believe, no matter how long it takes and I’m open to a range of different ideas and endless possibilities. I’m also one of those people that has no issue with faith and science sharing in my belief structure, in fact I believe the two, rather than being the mutually exclusive, probably have a far greater connection than the human mind can rationalise. Who says we need to know the secrets of the universe? Isn’t it far more fun to ponder them? The X Files did that – for 9 seasons and two films. It never attempted to answer many of the questions it asked, and you know, I was okay with that. I am, of course, tickled by the news that a reboot is in the works, which is what prompted me to write this post in the first place. Before we get acquainted with the new Mulder and Scully though, let’s revisit the Mulder and Scully we first fell in love with all those years ago…
(I’ll be starting at 10 and counting down to 1. Honourable mentions/ runners up will come at the end)
10. Kaddish (season 4, episode 15): Maybe it’s the lady genes in me, maybe it’s the whole thing about a bride going to a funeral rather than her wedding, but this episode makes me cry. No matter how often I see it, it manages to get me, in that final scene, every damn time. ‘I am to my beloved as my beloved is to me…’ Kills me.
This is probably not an episode that jumps out straight away to most people who are thinking about their favourite episodes of the X Files. If I hadn’t rewatched the entire series a few times in the last few years I might not remember it either, but since seeing it again, it’s really stuck in my mind because it is one of those episodes in which you’re confronted with a range of emotions, from all the characters, from start to finish.
Mulder and Scully are investigating the racially motivated murder of a Jewish store owner. Normally this wouldn’t be their type of gig, but when the suspected killers end up turning up dead themselves and some grainy video footage captures what appears to be the deceased… well… who better than Spooky Mulder to do some digging?
This is one of the few episodes in which Mulder is revealed to have a deeply rooted spirituality, somewhere in his wiring. Admittedly, it’s only small, but it is there. Scully is, predictably, sceptical about the idea that Mulder suspects that a Golem might be behind the murders. I loved the use of the Golem mythology because it’s not something that’s been done to death. The only other television shows I have seen the Golem pop up in are The Simpsons and The Sarah Connor Chronicles, so it still feels fresh. For those of you unfamiliar with the lore/legend/belief, a Golem is a figure bought to life through magic. In the stories, he is created by a human master but cannot be controlled. A series of holy words animates the golem and in order to destroy it these same words must either be erased in their entirety or partially. In many instances, the golem is created with the express purpose of carrying out some form of revenge deed in the service of its creator. The golem subsequently feels remorese or guilt for this and becomes angry and self-destructive. Ultimately it cannot be controlled by its master, proving that God alone controls creation and that human beings need to avoid being controlled by their emotions.
I don’t want to give away the ending of this episode, or too much of the plot, suffice to say it highlights several very beautiful Jewish beliefs and customs. I loved it, even though it is your standard ‘Monster of the Week’ episode, rather than being one which deals with the larger X Files mythology/government conspiracy topics. Actually, knowing full well what is in my own top ten, I’m going to admit that ‘Monster of the Week’ fare features far more heavily than your X Files mythology episodes… maybe I don’t like aliens that much after all. Timeline wise, Kaddish follows Momento Mori, which is the episode where Scully reveals that she has cancer and Mulder is full-devo. That episode was pretty exhausting emotionally, so this presents the opportunity to shift your emotions away from the Mulder/Scully relationship for a moment… they’re not the only ones with problems you know… and lets you recover enough to be ready to take on Unrequited which is a whole new world of weird.