S ix years ago. That's the last time agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully were part of our television lives. Until seeing "The X-Files: I Want to Believe" this past weekend, I had no idea how much I had missed them.
The genius of writer/director (and show creator) Chris Carter is that, unlike the first X-Files movie, he didn't bother himself with addressing the numerous loose ends the TV series left us with. Instead, "I Want to Believe" is more like an extended television episode. And from the moment right after the opening credits we see that familiar text in the bottom left corner of the screen,
Spooky Winter Scene, West Virginia
We know we're home.
Just like the countless creepy TV episodes from the show's peak years, Carter opens with some scary men doing some scary things. It's dark, it's creepy, and totally X-Files. Of course, the FBI no longer employs Mulder and Scully, so it's up to a distraught pair of agents (Amanda Peet and Xzibit) to seek out the infamous duo and ask for their help.
That's how Carter chooses to reunite the FBI with Mulder and Scully. As for reuniting we the audience with our two heroes, Carter clearly got a kick out of doing it. Consequently there's something really satisfying about watching as he teases us by showing Scully's red hair before revealing her familiar face. A few moments later, Scully talks to Mulder for a moment and all we see is the back of Mulder's head before he finally turns around in his chair and, viola!, Mulder's back. It's difficult to describe the feeling I got when I finally got to see Mulder and Scully together again; it felt oddly like pride. And when Mulder cracks a half smile at Scully and reaches for his trademark sunflower seeds? You complete, me, Fox Mulder. You complete me.
Still, it's been six years. Not just for we the viewers, but for Mulder and Scully too. Carter doesn't hide from the hiatus, either, but rather embraces it. The two former FBI agents have been through years and years of being buried by their employers, and in many ways their respective wills have been damaged. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson both play their roles brilliantly. Duchovny's spot on as ole' stubborn Fox Mulder, still a believer after all he's been through. Anderson's convincing, too, as the constantly torn Scully. Both characters are in a continuous struggle with both the world and themselves. They were always complex personalities and the six years added to their ages only adds new layers.
The one thing Mulder and Scully have in common: a genuine love for one another. In all honesty, I'm hard pressed to think of better chemistry between two other on-screen characters. Their love is one that's been developing for years, and yet still it's blocked by the very different driving forces within Mulder and Scully.
The truth is that "I Want to Believe" is a story about the complicated love Mulder and Scully share. Yes, there is some freaky stuff happening in West Virginia. Yes, Mulder (just like he always did in the show) manages to get himself into trouble by going off on his own. Yes, there are subtle moments of humor and clever lines. This time, though, the difference is that all that other stuff is just stuff. It's just what happens to Mulder and Scully. They can't help it.
There are no aliens. There are no guns (at least for Mulder and Scully). Yet, it's all very pleasantly familiar.
I only wish I could tune in next week.
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