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'X-Files' Fridays: Now I can only trust you

Season 2 | Episode 1 | “Little Green Men” | Aired Sep 16, 1994

It’s been over two decades since The X-Files made its debut, but the series is as relevant as ever, and with a revival on the horizon, there’s no better time to revisit it—or to discover it for the first time. Community assistant editors Andrea Towers, who watched in its original run, and Kelly Connolly, who was introduced to the show last summer, will be here each week to talk it out. Next up, Mulder lives for Bach.

KELLY: We’ve reached the age of The X-Files’ dreamy voiceover monologues, and I could not be more excited. “They closed our eyes, our voices had been silenced, our ears now deaf to the realms of extreme possibilities.” No one talks like this but Mulder and Scully. But Mulder and Scully would talk like this and think like this—all intelligent and vulnerable and somehow still polished. They’re on another plane. Not everyone can pull off denim on denim, either.

xfiles little green men mulder denim

ANDREA: Are we officially talking fashion sense now? I mean, I know this is the age of Gillian Anderson’s pregnancy, which means there are a lot of heavy coats, but she still manages to make the whole “badass FBI agent” thing work. And Mulder’s voiceover is an interesting way to start the season. The X-Files started with Mulder being hopeful, optimistic—not even Scully coming to “debunk” him could make him look the other way. But over the course of the first season, we’ve seen him crumble and get pushed down—not just by the Syndicate, but by the Monsters of the Week. So we open on hopelessness, a little bit—but we also know Mulder and Scully aren’t going to stop fighting.

KELLY: Mulder almost does, though. We left him saying he’d never give up as long as the truth was out there, but Scully “no longer feels that from him.” She’s so desperate in that parking garage to bring Mulder back to himself, because it’s clear that she relies on his hope—even though she doesn’t believe, it’s important to her that he does. Mulder expands Scully’s horizons, and in exchange, Scully grounds him in science. But that’s why he doubts himself now: For as much as he’s seen, he still has no proof. (“Again, Scully, nothing but evidence, and again, no evidence at all.”) Being away from Scully has shaken his resolve, because he’s lost the only person who ever backed up the validity of his search. But he’s sort of pushed her away, hasn’t he? He’s too afraid that they’ll be seen together.

One of the constants of this show is Mulder and Scully’s fear that their connection will be used against them—but it also saves their lives. She has a key to his place, she figures out his password (I love how genuinely confused and defeated she looks when it’s not Spooky), and she knows his alias on the flight manifest, so she’s able to sneak her way to him and keep the FBI off her tail. It’s not that the FBI isn’t a threat; it’s just that Mulder and Scully are better. Or, symbolically: The observatory might be shuttered, but the equipment is picking up aliens anyway. You can’t throw a plastic cover over Mulder and Scully’s work and lock it away. They’re too human and too curious, and they give each other new reasons to keep going when one of them starts to lose hope.

ANDREA:  I kind of love that the first episode back is not a fun Monster of the Week. It’s not even mythology, in a way. It’s kind of a simple, very human, curtains-pulled-back type of look at a character we’ve watched grow throughout the first season. Mulder’s actions and his beliefs in this episode remind me of depression, in a way—and Scully has to try to bring him back to himself, to remind him that the truth IS still out there and that they still have to fight. It really highlights the fact that despite everything, Scully is not leaving. She may not have a job anymore, she may not have her reputation anymore, but she’s still here. She’s still fighting. She still cares about Mulder and wants to be there for him.

And that’s really where the strength of their partnership comes from. The two of them, believing in each other, knowing that they have that one person on their side. (Okay, two. Skinner. Always Skinner.)

KELLY: This is Skinner’s first stand—the first time he pushes back against CSM. He’s starting to figure out that the cards have been stacked against Mulder from the start. Skinner doesn’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, and he’s not really looking, but when he’s forced to confront the conspiracy, he makes the right call. And Mulder needs that. He needs some institutional support; he needs the Senator’s insights. It’s just a question of where his needs and his trust intersect—he might follow the leads he’s given, but he doesn’t trust the people providing them. Mulder only trusts Scully.

Which is why your point about Scully bringing Mulder back to himself is so important. When he’s at his lowest, recording his observations of the body (for Scully), he says that before, he could only trust himself. “Now I can only trust you, and they’ve taken you away from me.” But Scully tracks him down—in the bullpen, in the parking garage, in Puerto Rico—and reminds him that the FBI may have reassigned her, but she’s not actually going anywhere. So by the end of the episode, Mulder can tell her, “I may not have the X-Files, but I still have my work. I still have you. I still have myself.” She gives him the confidence that he’s more than his job.

xfiles little green men scully mulder hand

ANDREA: She really does. Mulder actually is alone. I mean, he has Scully, but there’s no one else really on his side. After the season one finale, literally everything and everyone is against him. Skinner becomes the unlikely hero and also the unlikely advocate for him, and I like how that happens gradually, not because, “Oh, Mulder needed someone to look out for him secretly now that Deep Throat is gone” or something. But even now, even after just a few missions together (because, I mean, 20 or so episodes can only be a few weeks, right?), Mulder trusts Scully—and implicitly. She’s the only one he truly feels like he can turn to, the only person he feels he can be vulnerable with. Mulder is a lot of things, but he’ll never break in front of anyone. With Scully, though, she can see it—she can sense it—which is part of why she fights so hard to bring him back. She knows the man she more or less fell in love with, and she knows how much he can fight these people.

KELLY: Going with love already! I think you’re right that one of the first things Scully loves about Mulder—and it’s not something she’d consciously describe in those terms, but the way she says “To know that you’re all right” makes the love between them pretty clear—is the fight in him. She respects his determination, which is why it throws her for such a loop when he loses it.

It’s interesting that you’re picturing a handful of weeks, because I’m picturing at least a year, and maybe more. The pilot technically takes place in March of ’92, even though it aired in September of ’93, so depending on how much you hold the pilot to that, there could have been a huge gap between the first and second cases we see. It’s so typical of this show for the action to happen off-camera—I feel like Mulder and Scully spend days and weeks reading files, checking old newspapers, looking for anything actionable, copying keys to each other’s places, as you do. Scully probably has a lot of time to appreciate how diligent Mulder is. Also, how bad he is at Spanish. Can we talk about how bad Mulder is at Spanish?

ANDREA: Oh my god, Mulder missed the Spanish classes. All of them. ALL OF THEM. It kind of gives me second-hand embarrassment—but then again, this is Mulder. I’ve been embarrassed since “Is there any way to get it off quickly without betraying my cool exterior?”

Can we also talk about how when he finds the body, he takes notes on it? And those notes aren’t for himself. They’re for Scully. Even though they’re not working together, they’re STILL working together. He’s gathering evidence and preparing to show her things; he’s not keeping anything to himself. They’re a team now. He thinks of her when he’s on all these strange assignments—even the ones he gets himself into without even trying—and she’s the first person he thinks about sharing it with.

KELLY: The idea of not working together does not compute. They have a whole system of turned-down picture frames and secret meeting locations, because it’s just no question that they’re supposed to be doing something together, and this is the only kind of “something” they know.

ANDREA: And while we think that it’s because they’re trying to prove to the world that they’re still standing, it really is just because they need each other and they trust each other. In this world that’s trying to tear them apart, they’re each other’s constants. (I’m not gonna say it. I AM NOT GOING TO SAY IT UNTIL WE GET TO SEASON SEVEN.)

KELLY: Don’t say it. That would be bad for the fish.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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