THE SHOW: The X-Files
THE PAIRING: Scully and Mulder
THE EPISODE: “The Post-Modern Prometheus” – (aired November 30, 1997)
THE WRITER/DIRECTOR: Chris Carter
THE CLASSIC MOMENT: Mulder dances with Scully as the song “Walking in Memphis” (as sung by Cher) plays in the background.
On September 10, 1993, The X-Files premiered on Fox network for the first time. Now, here we are 20 years later! So I figured it would be fitting to go back to a classic romantic moment this week in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the series. With 9 seasons and two movies though how is one to pick only one romantic moment between the epic pair when in almost every episode they had a “moment?” Or even two or three?
CELEBRATING TWENTY YEARS
When the show first aired I was just a kid, yet I’ve always remembered watching the pilot episode with my family. Strangely the first season as a whole is clearer to me than the rest. It was a memorable time as we had just moved across the country and I felt quite a bit like an alien myself or even like the ostracized Mulder in the basement at my new school.
Of course, somehow I doubt if an adult science fiction show would have been at the top of the list of my TV watching choices as a young girl. But I guess that’s what happens when you have a Dad and a brother who like science. Me? I may have just been there along for the ride, but I was immediately drawn into the mythology, the characterization and especially the relationship between Scully and Mulder. I think I may have even had a little girl crush on Mulder. There was just something about the show and the almost “idealized” love between Scully and Mulder I connected to. (That and the show’s interest in twins…being one myself, this always intrigued me.)
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Over the years I only sporadically watched. Yet, the relationship between the two characters never quite left me. I went to go see the first movie Fight the Future, sighed when they “almost” but didn’t quite kiss, and I did make sure to tune into the finale. As for how many episodes I watched in between, I couldn’t tell you. I know I watched quite a bit of them. But my memories of specific episodes were vague (at least from my original viewing of the series).
It’s only all these years later, I recently decided to watch the show from beginning to end again. Or technically even for the “first time” for many episodes. Some episodes bring back memories; others are completely new. Watching the show as an adult is quite different than watching it as a kid or even as a teenager. No doubt I always loved the series, but now I LOVE the series. I can understand and appreciate what I couldn’t before. The writing, the acting, the directing: all amazing. Not to mention the research that went into each episode. But my favorite part is still the relationship between Scully and Mulder.
THE SCULLY AND MULDER RELATIONSHIP
Beyond their sizzling chemistry was the decision on Chris Carter’s part to give the relationship a slow burn. And I mean a SLOW BURN. Perhaps the attention span of today’s audience would be too frustrated with this, but I personally love it and even prefer this choice.
That said, I don’t like shows that give you the constant tease without any follow through. That’s just irritating. Or even the one-sided build up where one character takes FOREVER to see that the person in front of them is the one. At that point, I say to the unrequited individual…move on. But when there’s a soul connection presented like the one between Scully and Mulder, the slow build-up of tension somehow feels epic rather than frustrating.
Scully and Mulder’s relationship is one built on mutual trust and right from the beginning they had a strong connection. She’s drawn to his stubbornness and passion, he to her intellect, strength, and compassion. They complete each other in every way. No doubt both of them are willing to die for the other. But what will make their pairing on television stand the test of time is the fact that their relationship transcends normal human relationships. They represent pure soul love where intellect, empathy, and equality are at the center.
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In a way, they become this ideal. Don’t we all want the type of relationship Scully and Mulder have? Or is that just me?
Every touch of a hand, every gaze, every time one of them runs to save the other is filled with meaning. It’s not sex that makes their story romantic. It’s their oneness. They love each other so intensely and are so unique as individuals that they don’t need to love as others do.
In fact, there is nothing typical about the relationship between Scully and Mulder. Mulder doesn’t care what anyone thinks. He will get to the truth. He’s an outsider, a loner even, never afraid to say what he believes in. Scully doesn’t live the normal life like others around her. At one point in the series, she admits she hasn’t gone on a date in over four years. Both of these lonely characters if you will, come together and become complete. They excite each other. Scully quickly finds other “normal” guys to be boring (see “The Jersey Devil”).
Without the other, they are only half a soul (jokingly even when Scully goes on “vacation,” Mulder is so bored without her he spends his time sharpening pencils and throwing them at the ceiling). They become soul mates and again, I reiterate it is this representation of the oneness of soul between them that transcends most other TV relationships.
So it’s only fitting that the one moment I picked to highlight is all about transcendence.
THE CLASSIC ROMANTIC MOMENT
There’s something almost not real about this clip, yet you believe it is. The scene I’m referring to is the dance sequence from “The Post-Modern Prometheus.” It was a standalone monster of the week episode in season 5 that went on to receive 7 Emmy nominations (winning one) and deservedly so. The episode was highly influenced by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, particularly the 1931 film adaptation of it and filmed in black and white. The script is memorable, moving and even funny.
The episode tells the story of a “monster” nicknamed the Great Mutato who is the result of a science experiment from an “evil” scientist. Deformed with an infatuation with Cher (due to the movie Mask), the Great Mutato is in want of love. At first, in typical monster fashion, the town turns into a mob to get the monster, pitchforks and all. But in the end, they decide that he’s not a monster after all. But will he find love in the end? He will if Mulder has something to say about it!
One of the teenage boys in town created a comic book after the Great Mutato, but toward the end of the episode as Mulder’s reading the end of the comic book story he adds:
Mulder: This is all wrong Scully. This is not how the story’s supposed to end.
Scully: What do you mean?
Mulder: Dr. Frankenstein pays for his evil ambitions, yes. But the monster is supposed to escape to go search for his bride.
Scully: There’s not going to be any bride, Mulder. Not in this story.
Mulder: Where is the writer? We need to speak to the writer.
Here, Mulder seems to break the fourth wall in an attempt to appeal to the writers for a happy ending. Is it just for the “monster?” Or could it also have a double meaning? Mulder wants a happy ending for him and Scully, so the writer (even if it’s only temporary) is going to give it.
What follows next is the entire romantic sequence. There’s something about the feeling of this scene that for me represents the entire relationship between Scully and Mulder and their journey.
The song “Walking in Memphis” as sung by Cher (true to the style of the episode) begins as Scully and Mulder take the “monster” on a road trip. Where are they going? To a Cher concert of course.
At first, we’re supposed to question if they’re going to take him to prison. Maybe they will, but for now, they’re going to give the Great Mutato a little bit of happiness. The upbeat, emotional song establishes the mood. The characters are on a spiritual journey if you will. As the song plays, the three characters look straight ahead to the road before them listening to the song.
The Great Mutato taps his foot to the rhythm. Mulder looks over at Scully when she isn’t looking (it’s more of a loving gaze really).
And then he turns his head just as Scully looks back at him with love. It’s a nice little game. And all to the lyrics… “do I really feel the way I feel.” Oh, the build up…
What’s great about this song choice is that if you really pay attention to the lyrics, they could be interpreted as being completely representative of Scully and Mulder and their journey for truth as well as with each other. Together they become spiritually awakened. They were lost before, but together they come alive. But… “do they really feel the way they feel?” They haven’t announced their feelings for each other in so many words, yet at this moment they’re revealing their feelings through their actions to each other.
The song builds as the scene transitions to the Cher concert. The Great Mutato is dancing and singing and having the time of his life with Scully and Mulder smiling behind him. They are just as in the moment as he is. The Great Mutato’s happy ending, his “love” story is to dance with Cher on stage.
That could work as an ending in and of itself but Mulder isn’t finished. He’s going to have his own happy ending.
He stands up, and romantically sweeps Scully onto the dance floor in a masculine tug so they can dance together. And of course, Scully can’t hide the happiness in her expression. Neither could I, I’m sure as I watched the scene.
They gaze into each other’s eyes, the romantic love beyond apparent at this point as they enjoy a little moment of being together.
The moment transcends the fantastical reality of the episode and enters an almost imagined fantasy (though I’m still going to argue it happened), while also being representative of Scully and Mulder’s actual relationship. It’s an ideal moment, just as they are ideal as a “couple.” Chris Carter also tells us about his future ending. Scully and Mulder WILL end up together. He demands it. Why? Because it’s his story and it just feels good.
As they dance and look into each other’s eyes, the song finishes with the lyrics… “Walking in Memphis…but do I really feel the way I feel?”
Scully and Mulder smile and then the screen freezes and then transforms the photo image into a comic book drawing.
There’s something about this scene that just puts a smile on your face. Your emotions are tied to the characters and the song. It’s emotional, happy, and even a little bit sad. But it’s also hopeful. Overall, this may be one of the most romantic scenes I’ve seen in any episode of any TV Series ever. And that’s saying a lot.
THEY DELETED WHAT?
For anyone who’s a huge fan and doesn’t already know, it was revealed that a kiss between Scully and Mulder (which would have been their first if kept in) was filmed in this particular sequence. Writer Frank Spotnitz confirmed it on his blog (which is no longer available to read).
Apparently, it was the idea of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, but Chris Carter cut it, feeling that it was too soon. The kiss was leaked online at some point but has since been deleted. There’s a picture floating around on various websites!
Again, while I appreciate restraint and the slow burn, on this one I say to Chris…since it was a “fantasy” episode, I wouldn’t have minded the kiss at that moment. I wouldn’t have minded one bit.
On a little extra side note, this summer at Comic-Con, David Duchovny revealed one of his favorite romantic moments between Scully and Mulder. According to him, it was from ‘The Post-Modern Prometheus’ “where we get up to dance.”
Do you have a favorite romantic moment between Scully and Mulder? Sound off below…ATTENTION ROMANCE LOVERS! Have a romantic tip for our Romantic Moment of the Week column? Send us a message. We can't watch or read everything out there and would love to know of other wonderful romantic moments - especially recent ones! We'll then take the moment into consideration. If you love to write, you can also pitch it to us as a guest post. Contact us HERE.
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