Jan 25 2016 2:01am

Don’t Give Up: The X-Files 10x01 Mulder/Scully Heart-to-Heart

Eight years after The X-Files: I Want to Believe hit theaters and THIRTEEN years after the series finale aired on television, FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are back for a six-episode Season 10 of The X-Files. Suffice to say, I am a WRECK. Won't you join me, fellow Mulder/Scully shippers—you, who coined the phrase “shipping” in the first place—in breaking down each new slice of canon we are gifted? Tonight we start with the season premiere, episode 10x01, “My Struggle, Part I.”

First, the bad news: Mulder and Scully are not a couple when we meet up with them again in “My Struggle, Part I,” and their unhappiness pervades the whole affair.

This turn of events is maddening and heartbreaking after everything they've been through, so if your response to this episode is a confusing mix of euphoria over seeing your favorites back on screen (not to mention the original credits!) and demoralization over the state of the MSR, that's valid. Go ahead and let yourself feel it all: Mulder's saltiness, Scully's deceptively serene facade, and William's absence, still eating them both from the inside out. It almost hurts to look at them in this episode, yeah?

But, as Mulder tells Scully once again: “Don't give up.”

Here's the good news: Mulder and Scully are totally, absolutely, 100% still in love and everything's gonna be fine. You can see it in every moment they share. Need more convincing?

Here's 7 signs from “My Struggle, Part 1” that Mulder and Scully remain crazy about each other all these years later:

Scully and Mulder look for any reason to talk or meet up, and for an estranged couple, they sure do a lot of gazing.

As has been the case for more than 23 years now (!!!), our beloved agents have trouble keeping their eyes and their hands to themselves around each other. Whatever drove them apart (and it sounds like a combo of Mulder's depression and Scully's need to escape the conspiracy's “stranglehold” on her life) did nothing to dim the affection and genuine liking between them. They keep in touch, but you can tell they both want to be even closer...

“I'm aways happy to see you, Mulder,“ she tells him in the middle of downtown D.C.

“And I'm always happy to find a reason,” he returns, 'cause what else does he have to lose?

Mulder is a MESS without Scully, and he isn't shy about letting her know it.

Whenever given the chance, Mulder reminds Scully that their separation is her choice, not his (“[getting out of the little house] certainly was good for you,” Mulder snarks at one point, clueing us into the fact that Scully is the one who moved out sometime after I Want to Believe, the movie in which they were both sad approximately 99% of the time... If you hated the way their traumas never caught up with them in the show, well, times have changed).

Anyway, Mulder has never functioned well without his other half—remember how in Season 5's “Chinga,” he dealt with her weekend vacation by moping around throwing pencils into the ceiling?—and this is no exception. He's unkempt and disconnected from the world, lacking the drive we've always associated with him. He misses the x-files and Scully.

That all changes as the new conspiracy theory lights a fire under him again and especially when Scully confesses she does, in fact, have alien DNA and is back in the fight.

Scully confesses to Tad that she's never felt more alive than she did working on the X-files and that her relationship with Mulder is unmatched, if also “impossible.”

Scully has always done a better job than Mulder at pretending—“I'm fine, Mulder,” is one of her trademark phrases from the original series—so it's important to remember that all is not as it seems with her. Sure, at first glance, she seems to be dealing with the breakup much better than Mulder. Too much better. But it would be a mistake to think that she's truly happy underneath her cool, put-together facade. Scully's work as a doctor is important to her, definitely, and she's proud of the way she's been able to help children, clearly, but you can't deny the way she lights up when she talks about the x-files, and the fiery way she describes her relationship with Mulder as “impossible.” No one drives her as crazy as Mulder does, but no one understands her as completely, either.

{See Also: 18 Times Mulder/Scully Ruined Us for All Other TV Romances}

For all her talk about hating the darkness and worrying about Mulder's continued obsession, Scully can't help but welcome a good excuse to get sucked back into the X-files—and it's all because of Mulder.

Scully has always felt a pull toward the “normal” life she expected to have. She vented about her life moving in an endless line in Season 4's “Never Again,” seriously considered quitting the FBI and giving up the fight in Fight the Future, asked Mulder “Don't you ever just want to get out of the car?” in Season 6's “Dreamland,” and tried her damndest to stay out of the case in I Want to Believe.

After everything she's lost to the quest for the truth, who can blame her for wanting to escape the darkness inherent in that mission? Yet, as Mulder pointed out in I Want to Believe, it always seems to find them both, and deep down, Scully knows this is who she truly is and what she's meant to do; In season 7's “All Things,” she came to the realization that she wouldn't have been satisfied with a “normal” life, and that the one she'd made with Mulder was what was meant to be. (“What if there was only one choice, and all the other ones were wrong?” she mused aloud to Mulder once.)

In “My Struggle,” once she learns of the personal connection, we see Scully almost eager to get back to that place where, fighting the darkenss with Mulder besider her, she can be fully herself, for better or worse.

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They demonstrate hints of jealousy (even though they should really know better by now).

Ed Jerse, Diana Fowley, Sheriff Hartley, Dakota Whitney... Though Mulder and Scully had several admirers over the years, they never really had a chance with the agents, so a jealous Scully or Mulder seemed like overkill. At this point, however, I can't deny I'm heartened by the fact that these two are sensitive to any perceived intimacy (romantic, professional, or otherwise) with other people. It's petty of me for sure, but I take Mulder mocking the way Tad calls Scully “Dana” and Scully's disappointed face at seeing Sveta open the front door to her former house (note that this is Scully being upset about Mulder choosing his obsession over her than it is about Sveta, who's just the messenger) as another sign that a Mulder/Scully reconciliation is inevitable.

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Mulder and Scully's miracle baby, whom Scully gave up for adoption for his own protection in Season 9's “William,” is the living embodiment of Mulder and Scully's love. William's birth tied his parents together like nothing else, but I would imagine that his loss is a big part of what has driven them apart. As Mulder said in I Want to Believe, their son left them both with an emptiness that can never be filled. “My Struggle, Part 1” gives me hope that the search for answers about William's conception (remember, Scully was barren before she got pregnant with him, and attempts at IVF had failed) and alien DNA (quite possibly inherited from his mother, it turns out) won't merely build on the show's mythology, but also help Mulder and Scully heal.

Mulder refuses to let Scully give up, and Scully knows they must get back into the fight.

“Don't give up” was a major theme of I Want to Believe, not to mention the series, and so Mulder's message to Scully in the parking garage is a sweet callback. Does he mean to reassure her about their relationship, or the work, or does it even matter? The x-files have been reopened, baby, and Mulder and Scully are BACK. I have faith they'll find their way into each other's arms again. They always do.

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What did you think of the first episode? Don't forget: Episode 2 is on TONIGHT! I'll have a recap up for that tomorrow morning.

Memorable Lines

”Don't pretend I'm going alone.“ —Fox Mulder to Dana Scully

“[Scully's] shot men with less provocation.” —Mulder

Scully: ”We've both moved on with our lives.“
Mulder: ”Yes, we have. For better or for worse."

X-Phile Lingo

Canon — The text of the series, meaning anything that has happened on screen in the TV show or movies

CSM — Cigarette Smoking Man, aka Cancer Man or CGB Spender

Headcanon/Fanon — Personal theories about the show or characters, often filling in the blanks of canon; headcanons widely adopted by the fandom can become fanon (for instance, Mulder's family comes from money and he inherits it all, but doesn't spend it, which explains his homely ties and spartan apartment)

MSR — Mulder/Scully Romance (or Relationship), a shorthand for discussing the pairing

OTP — One True Pairing, the one couple you love above all others

Ship — Relationship

Shipper — A fan who roots for two characters to become a romantic pairing; in this case, Mulder and Scully; the X-Files fandom is credited with coining the term “relationshipping”

Unremarkable house — Nickname for the house Mulder and Scully shared in I Want to Believe and where Mulder now lives alone in Season 10

UST — Unresolved Sexual Tension

Heather Waters is the editorial director of H&H and a 24/7 fangirl. She grew up surrounded by The X-Files fans and has been a card-carrying MSR shipper herself since bingeing all 9 seasons (on DVD, no less) and 2 movies in 2008. Find her on Twitter at @hwaters_

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Pamela Cayne
1. Pamela Cayne
That "For better or for worse line" (including Mulder's pointed look to Scully as he says it) killed me. Especially on top of the "getting out of the little house" comment.

Yargh! Right in the feelz!

And was it just me, or did anybody else want Mulder to hug her when she admitted (bordering on tears) that Sveta wasn't the only one?
2. SherylNantus
I... I was so annoyed by the end of the show that I almost cried.

Slight background note - I've written over 200 fanfics and met my hubby through said fanfic writing. So I'm sort of invested in the show.

What we got last night... I dunno. I realize it was an attempt to bring new viewers in and up to date, but now Mulder's blissfully running after the idea that it's all government men now after so long? I can't get it. They've SEEN things that run so much to the contrary and that he's going to run off on a theory after one damned minute... I can't.... just can't...

I have no idea who cast Joel McHale in this but they should be fired. Aside from the guy being super-creepy and hitting on Scully I expected him to crack a joke at any second.

We'll be watching tonight, hoping our faith will be restored with a good MOTW episode that CC's NOT writing. The monologues killed me last night and I just hope that if Fox picks up the series for another stretch they cut CC's involvement back to just a name on the screen.

Heather Waters
3. HeatherWaters
@Pamela Cayne -- So, there was this theory going around the fandom for a while that Mulder and Scully had gotten married (and then separated) after IWTB, and the "for better or for worse" line (which people had picked up on during the screening at New York Comic Con) was one of the biggest reasons people thought "Wifegate" coud be legit (along with David Duchovny constantly referring to Scully as Mulder's wife out of...confusion, I guess?). I have to say, even though it's been pretty much debunked at this point, that line remains positively LOADED with meaning coming from Mulder. I loved it. I love seeing him so unwilling to let her go. And yet, at the same time, I need to see him FIGHT for her. Because that's part of the issue, isn't it, that he proves over and over again that he can't let go of his quest, even for her? So they only work when she's back on board the quest too. I'd like to see him be selfish, just once, and put her first.

YES, he absolutely should have hugged her. I think he's trying to give her the space he thinks she needs, but I hope we get some hugs as the season goes on.
Heather Waters
4. HeatherWaters
@SherylNantus -- You are far from alone. I saw the episode at NYCC and was nearly in tears by the end, I was so upset. This episode is, as critics have pointed out, Chris Carter at his worst. I completely agree that Carter's involvement should be cut down (in a diplomatic way, because David and Gillian have said they won't do the show without him, so he needs to still be involved somehow, just not writing and directing so many episodes).

That said, if it's any comfort, I'm told tonight's episode is better and that next week's, which was written by Darin Morgan, is fantastic.

I guess I'm also comforted by the fact that, even though the mytharc is as big of a mess as it's always been with Carter basically hitting the reset button--Mulder is back to believing in a conspiracy of men like in...Season 6, was it? except this time the government is using alien technology to do it, which means aliens are also confirmed--the show has overcome that before. As long as Mulder and Scully are teaming up to fight SOMETHING, I don't even much care what it is, you know? And I do think the monster of the week episodes will be enjoyable.

Still, I'm not going to lie: I am incredibly sad Vince Gilligan wasn't able to write for Season 10, possibly helping to save Chris Carter from himself, and I'm holding out hope that he will write an episode for Season 11 if/when that gets confirmed.

PLEASE feel free to vent anytime, though, because even though I'm trhying to be positive here, I rant ALL. THE. TIME. about how much better I want this revival to be. Jenn Proffitt can tell you.

P.S. You wrote fic and met your husband through the show? That is incredible, I love hearing stories like that. I hope the show can improve and inspire you again before it's over. :)
Jennifer Proffitt
5. JenniferProffitt
@Heather Waters and @SherylNantus, I can, indeed, confirm that Heather rants, quite a bit. I don't watch the show so I just smile and nod. ;)
6. SherylNantus

Thanks for the support!

Yes, we met back on the board, for those of you who remember the old Usenet boards! I wrote under my maiden name, Sheryl Martin, and got a lovely fan letter from a sweet-talking American... which is why I always tell authors to answer their fan mail!


We'll be watching tonight but I'm glad that I'm not the only one getting caught up in the speed bumps from the first ep. From what I've read it seems there's quite a few people thinking CC blew this chance.
7. tazdevil
Great recap! Just the important stuff. So glad I found your blog.
Heather Waters
8. HeatherWaters
@tazdevil -- Hello and thank you! Looking forward to discussing with you. Mulder and Scully are all I care about in the end. :)
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