The X-Files, The X-files, TV, X-files

The Dichotomy in the X-Files That Kept Mulder and Scully from the Truth

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It’s the week before Halloween and I’m all about re-watching all things The X-Files, Fringe, and Supernatural related! And of course it triggers not just the scare-centre of my brain but random thoughts on the topics, themes, and subjects that inspire the other posts on this blog.

The seventeenth episode of The X-Files’ Season 2, titled “End Game”, ends with this voiceover:

“Transfusions and a treatment with antiviral agents have resulted in a steady but gradual improvement in Agent Mulder’s condition. Blood tests have confirmed his exposure to the still-unidentified retrovirus, whose origin remains a mystery. The search team that found Agent Mulder has located neither the missing submarine nor the man he was looking for. Several aspects of this case remain unexplained, suggesting the possibility of paranormal phenomena. But I am convinced that to accept such conclusions is to abandon all hope of understanding the scientific events behind them. Many of the things I have seen have challenged my faith and my belief in an ordered universe, but this uncertainty has only strengthened my need to know, to understand, to apply reason to those things that seem to defy it. It was science that isolated the retrovirus Agent Mulder was exposed to, and science that allowed us to understand its behavior. And ultimately, it was science that saved Agent Mulder’s life.” (Dana Scully, Case Notes, Season 2, Episode 17: “End Game”)

This underlines the fact that, while Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully did understand the basics of consultation, they were not detached enough from their personal views to feed off each other adequately enough to find the truth quicker and more efficiently. Instead, they clung (and sometimes obstinately and at great cost) to their perspective. One example of this is when, after Mulder disappears, Scully tried to step into his shoes by becoming “the believer”. The challenge was that she had never walked in those shoes and doesn’t fit in them; she ended up leading her new partner, John Doggett, in places they should never have gone into in the first place.

Similarly, Mulder’s obstinate, narrow view of the world as a place where the paranormal abounds and belief that everyone would only think of him as “Spooky” denied him the opportunity to systematically record all the happenings he had witnessed over the course of his career in The X-Files, and thus to lose the opportunity to gain many a supporter to his cause. It’s almost like he was keeping his belief in the paranormal safe by denying it scientific treatment.

In the above-quoted voiceover, Scully mentions that her faith in an ordered universe is affected. But the thing is that, just because you don’t understand what’s going on doesn’t mean that its not ordered or following a certain rule or law. Taking a massive step back, although there was a lot the Ancient Egyptians didn’t know about, and they were wrong about many, many of their theories about the way the world functions, they still managed to understand enough to raise a successful culture, the artefacts of which still exist today.

This challenge faces us all. The internet has the potential of opening our eyes to aspects of the world in ways we never thought about; but the current way search engines are designed reinforces a natural tendency to surround ourselves with what we believe in. This create a condition in which every group is silo-ed within their own truth; and while their own truth is not false, it is woefully incomplete and doesn’t serve to help heal the world of its troubles.

The solution? To learn to take other people’s ideas and rigorously analyse them not with the intention of debunking them, but rather to enhance both parties’ understanding of the truth. Mulder and Scully did that but only to a certain extent; one can’t help but wonder how much quicker they would have solved the conspiracy had they put their strengths together more efficiently.

Then again, it would have made a much shorter run for the show, so who am I to complain?

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