Introduction and "Pilot"

The X-Files: One Shot

[Also published on The Completist.]


In 2015, I created a Tumblr titled “The X-Files: One Shot,” where I posted one image, with an accompanying caption of varied length, from each installment of my favorite work of art. The Hi-Def remasters of the original nine-season series were just then showing up on streaming services and the premiere of the six-part X-Files revival (now Season 10) was a few months away. I ended up making it only to the Season 2 episode “Død Kalm,” though I hoped to continue the project one day.

No time like the present. I may use the same images and captions from the 42 posts already published on Tumblr. (42: The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything and Fox Mulder’s apartment number.) Or I may change it up. I’ll also be mirroring each post on my personal site, The Completist. The intent is to write about an image from all 217 episodes (the hour-and-a-half season 9 finale is sometimes counted as two episodes, resulting in a 218 count—we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it), as well as both movies, Fight the Future (1998) and I Want to Believe (2008).

The X-Files comes closer than anything to embodying my own faiths and failings, my outlook on, and my philosophy of, life. Save for Twin Peaks (keep an eye out for a project on that somewhere down the line), there’s no other piece of moving-picture media that I hold quite so dear.

1x79: Season 1, Episode 1 (September 10, 1993)

(Director of Photography: Thomas Del Ruth)

All of the major players are in this shot, which captures the semi-antagonistic, and initially platonic, dynamic between FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). I love how M&S are separated by the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) and a pane of, I believe, one-way glass. (Scully, the rationalist, can see Mulder, but Mulder, up in the conspiracy-minded clouds, can’t see Scully. Yet when Mulder looks toward Scully just after this, it’s as if he’s psychically intuiting her presence, which fits with his tendency to make scarily accurate speculative leaps, even from on high.) They’re so close, yet so far—a long way still to travel. This is the sole episode photographed by Thomas Del Ruth, and the only installment not officially protected for the 1.78 aspect ratio in which the series has been, for the most part, beautifully remastered.