Mark Snow’s Score and other X-Files Musical Mastery

As promised, every week I’m bringing you new X-Files related posts in conjunction with the excitement for the new revival. If like me, you grew up with the show and simply can’t get enough, then please discuss the show here with me and other X-Philes like yourselves. Last week I brought you 10 lessons I learned watching The X-Files, including some particularly poignant moments. This week, let’s listen to some music that helped give those moments such profound emotion.

5148S5SPB6L

There’s no better place to begin in a post like this than with the iconic theme:

Even people who have never seen an episode of The X-Files know this sound when they hear it. The high-pitched whistles and unmistakable echo have become synonymous with the show. Mark Snow once said in an interview that he was having trouble getting the theme just right, but a happy accident with a feedback machine led to the wonderful dadada dadada dadada that fills our hearts with joy. Let me say to the lucky children of this generation, that when I was a teenager, we didn’t have Netflix, or DVR, or Hulu, or YouTube to watch anything we wanted, whenever we wanted. And until I was 16, got my first job, and saved up $100 for my first collector’s edition DVD box set, I had to wait until two in the morning to watch X-Files reruns on SciFi (yes, before it was SyFy) This theme song was the sound I waited all day for.

Mark Snow didn’t only write the theme, but almost all of the music ever heard on the show throughout all nine seasons. One of my favorite pieces of his plays at the end of “Triangle” in season six when after a near death experience, Mulder tells Scully he loves her for the first time. Snow created a lighter, happier variation of The X-Files theme song, minus the creepy, slow overtones:

I don’t know if it’s just the emotionally charged scene behind it, but every time I hear this my heart nearly explodes with joy. If you were to express the concept or emotion of love musically, this is how you would do it. It’s light and happy, but also passionate and fierce at times. Contrariwise, Snow is a master at evoking tears of sadness. His “This is Not Happening” theme all but kills me, biting at the pain already inflicted by the scene it plays over: Scully discovering Mulder’s corpse, left behind by his alien abductors. Fans of the show know, that we got our beloved Mulder back thanks to alien physiology, but at the time, with Duchovny discussing leaving the show, he really might have been gone forever. At around 1:40 is where this one really starts breaking your heart:

But what The X-Files is most widely known for, is its horror factor, and Snow has no problem bringing the creep either:

The first time I heard this in the episode “Soft Light,” it was all I needed to give me Goosebumps, before even the first death occurred for the agents to investigate. So many of his themes are downright nightmare inducing, especially when you fall asleep watching your DVDs and then wake up to a horrifying picture on your menu screen accompanied by such an eerie tune.

It isn’t always Mark Snow alone, but a collaboration of writers and musicians, choosing the right music for the writing and story. In “Closure” when Mulder finally learns the tragic fate of his sister, Samantha, “My Weakness” by Moby is playing, and while this isn’t at all my type of music outside of the show, it was the absolute perfect piece for this scene. To illustrate this point, I’m using a video by XFyellowbee, one of my favorite Youtube fan vid makers. Yellowbee incorporates the song into one of many beautiful themes on the show: that souls reside eternally in starlight:

If you enjoy this video, be sure to check out more of Yellowbee’s compilations; you won’t be disappointed.

Closure1280

Gillian Anderson used another Moby song, “Sky is Broken,” in an episode she wrote entitled “All Things.” In the episode, the song plays over a number of profound moments for Scully, where her world seems to slow down and she contemplates how every decision she’s made has ultimately led to her sitting on Mulder’s couch with him, a part of his quest.

At the end, it plays over a conversation between Mulder and Scully about fate, during which Scully falls asleep, and Mulder covers her with a blanket and pushes her hair behind her ear. Taking a moment to admire her face, and how lucky he is to have her in his life, his whole world slows down.

X-Files-All-Things-7X17-the-x-files-9062212-852-480

In addition to the music you hear in the individual X-Files episodes, the show has spawned a soundtrack of pieces inspired by the show, though a few of them don’t necessarily make an appearance in the episodes. The first was entitled Songs in the Key of X, and featured incredibly fitting melodies for the theme of the show such as “Unmarked Helicopters” by Soul Coughing that one of my favorite characters, Max listens to in the episode “Max.” It also features “Red Right Hand” that can be heard playing in Duane Barry’s car after he’s kidnapped Scully, “Frenzy,” from the episode “Humbug” and my personal favorite, a Foo Fighters cover of Gary Numan’s “Down in the Park” that never appeared in an episode:

51qfoEoBmSL

I also just adore the artwork on Songs in the Key of X, but that’s a post for another day.

The second soundtrack, Fight The Future, was a product of the first X-Files feature film by the same name. Some of the more memorable tracks were the “Crystal Ship” cover by x , and “Walking After You” by the Foo Fighters, a song that never fails to make me remember the hallway scene where Scully tries to quit, and the almost kiss that follows. You can view both below:

41DM03HWKQL

On the third soundtrack from the movie I Want To Believe, the clear winner is another spin on Mark Snow’s theme blending into an UNKLE song that fits perfectly the feel of the film, playing over the end credits:

IWantToBelieveSdtrk

Some other favorites include:

“Come and go with me to that land” from “The Unnatural,” an episode written by David Duchovny. This song plays over Josh Exley’s death and then over Mulder and Scully playing baseball under the stars. I’d be lying if I said it never made me shed a tear.

“Walking in Memphis,” from “The Post Modern Prometheus” playing suring Mulder and Scully’s first dance. I always loved how Mulder doesn’t ask, but nervously sticks out his hand while bowing his head. As soon as Scully takes it, he pulls her in and doesn’t let go. Then of course there’s the black and white and the animated freeze frame finish: perfection.

“Twilight Time” from “Kill Switch,””Wonderful Wonderful” from “Home” are other standouts. I always find it so eerie when happy music plays over a brutal murder scene. On a lighter note, I also love when “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” plays over the gift exchange at the end of “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas.”

The photo I featured at the beginning of this post is the cover of The Truth and The Light album that was released for The X-Files 20th anniversary. I highly recommend it because it not only compiles all the best Mark Snow scores, but includes audio from the show including character quotes, and commentary by Executive Producer, Chris Carter.

The X-Files also inspires music. If you don’t believe me, ask Bree Sharp about her song “David Duchovny” that describes falling in love with Mulder while watching the show, or listen to Catatonia’s “Mulder and Scully.”

Philes, what are some of your favorite scores or musical moments in the show? Please comment below. until next week, you can check out my other X-Files related posts by clicking on The X-Files link under categories on the right hand side of the home page. Until then, don’t stop believing 🙂

Advertisements

How Better Call Saul Surprised Me

better-call-saul-ep-103-02

When I first learned there would be a Breaking Bad spinoff about Saul, I was mildly interested. Breaking Bad isn’t what I normally look for in a T.V. show, but if Vince Gilligan writes it, I’ll watch whatever. Breaking Bad turned out to be one of the best-written shows I’ve ever seen. Still I thought, there’s no way a spinoff could possibly live up to it. Why should I be emotionally invested in Saul, the sleezebag lawyer, like I was in say, Jessie Pinkman? Better Call Saul offers the “why” in abundance.

I expected to find humor in this show, good writing, drama, and suspense. I did not expect to become so emotionally invested in Jimmy McGill’s character that my heart breaks over and over every week, or that when Jimmy cries, I want to too. I like him more than I ever liked Walt over the course of Breaking Bad and it’s only been one short season.

Jimmy is so utterly and painfully human, you can’t help but love him. Here’s someone who’s been so beaten down while trying to change his flawed character and walk the straight and narrow, but who still tries to do the right thing. Yes, he gives into temptation, like he did with the Kettlemans’ bribe, but that was understandable. He couldn’t make ends meat being good, so he opted for making a lot of money by being a little bit bad. That part wasn’t surprising to me at all. What did shock me was that he gave the money back, turned the Kettlemans back over to Kim and HHM, and completely righted his moral misstep by taking $20,000 of his own will money to make the county whole again.

So in true Gilliganian fashion, we see rewards for bad behavior in this working world (a sad commentary on the working world, quite the opposite for his writing) and pain and poverty in return for doing the right thing. Jimmy does the right thing and loses his shiny new office, loses $20,000 and his dream desk, loses Kim whom he is still so obviously in love with (ow, there’s that pain in my heart again) but at least he’s done the right thing. The right thing leaves him crying in his would-be office–one of the most heart wrenching scenes I’ve ever witnessed.

Still, Jimmy is trying to be the good guy–the guy Chuck is proud of and a guy good enough to earn Kim’s affection. He works his ass off in the mail room at HHM where he receives no respect and Kim seems to be his only friend, and receives an online law degree and passes the bar. How can you not respect the hell out of that? Still he gets beaten down. HHM won’t hire him.

Well, we found out last night that the reason why is Chuck. It turns out Chuck isn’t proud of Jimmy at all, and doesn’t even consider him a “real” lawyer. When Jimmy finds out (and not because Chuck confessed, mind you) he is crushed, and so am I. Jimmy has been taking care of Chuck, bringing him everything he needs, checking up on him regularly, grounding himself, rescuing him from the hospital with so much genuine care it made my heart swell, defending Chuck’s claim that the condition is physical and not psychological, not committing him, not cashing out with HHM by becoming his legal guardian, and rooting Chuck to get back outside and back to work. In the beginning I saw two brothers with fundamental differences, who at the end of the day, were really there for each other. I am so disappointed. What a great show, that it can evoke all these emotions.

Mark my words, the difference between Jimmy being good, and Saul being bad is ultimately going to amount to the fact that Chuck doesn’t believe in his brother. You live up to people’s expectations of you (at least those you care about). When Jimmy thought Chuck was proud of him, and encouraging him, he was working hard and doing so well–going so far as to dive into dumpsters and reassemble shredded documents, pulling all nighters. Now that he knows how Chuck really feels about him, he will be what Chuck accused him of: Slippin’ Jimmy. Why not? That’s all he’ll ever get credit for. The pain…my God, the pain…

Speaking of emotions, I rarely ship characters outside of SciFi, but I just want Jimmy to apologize to Kim and kiss her. At first I thought she sold him out to be partner (I’ll make you partner if you get your friend to take the deal) But she didn’t do anything wrong. She stood up for him. I still have a bad feeling (but I really hope I’m wrong) that Kim is involved with Hamlin in more than just a professional way. If that happens, then Hamlin will have everything Jimmy wants, and Jimmy will have nothing and no reason not to become Saul. Kim never appears in Breaking Bad. Why? What happens to her? I really like her. There’s finally a cool female character in this world who doesn’t suck like Skylar, Jane, and Marie did. She too has me emotionally invested. Why does she stay with a firm that treats her like garbage, threatening to fire her, and moving her to a closet office? Way to show loyalty, Hamlin. I’ll tell you why: for the almighty dollar. She wants to be partner, and that means more to her than accepting Jimmy’s offer. They’d have less money, but they would have both been happy, respected, and really enjoyed their job together. She also might have rejected Jimmy’s offer (ow, the stabbing pain is back) because of my Kim/Hamlin theory. Again, I really hope not.

There’s only one episode left in this first season and I’m already bracing myself for the inevitability of Jimmy’s downfall into Saul. What do you think? Please share your thoughts below.

The Good, The Bad, and The Dead: Thoughts on The Walking Dead Season 5 Finale

walking-dead

Let me get the bad out of the way first, because, as always, there’s very little of it:

I don’t like when the characters have to be stupid in order to create the desired scenes in the story. Obviously, Nicholas is up to no good, making sure Glenn sees him leave the community after Glenn specifically told him not to and made Nicholas feel like the childish moron that he is. So why does Glenn follow Nicholas out into the woods to his doom without taking Maggie who was right there, or anyone else with him, or at least telling someone where he was going? At least if he mentioned it, maybe someone, like his wife, would have shown the slightest bit of concern that he’s out in the woods with an enemy Alexandrian after dark even though he said he’d be at the meeting.

Rick isn’t there either. And, like, the meeting is about him. There’s no “Michonne, why don’t you go wake up Rick, and tell him we’re about to start?” They just go on with the meeting like it’s no big deal that people are missing at this hour, especially the person in question to be exiled.

Where’s Rick? Off fighting a walker. Because the gate to the gated community was left wide open. Okay, I know you Alexandrians are completely inept and unqualified to handle the apocalypse, but come on bro, close the gate. It’s important. Instead of completing his extremely important duty, the Alexandrian asks Gabriel to close the gate for him and skips off to the town meeting. Gabriel has meanwhile flipped his lid, so you might say, he meant to leave the gate open. If that were the case, wouldn’t he just have come inside without even touching the gate? Or did he want it to look like he really meant to close it? Either way it comes off as just outstanding vigilance on everyone’s part /sarcastifont/.

So Glenn and Rick are missing in the dark, and didn’t it get dark really fast? In one scene it’s high noon, and then in the next it was black of night. I think this was because the writers wanted a cool, creepy-looking meeting around a campfire for Porch Dick to crash. That’s fine. Just start the scenes a bit later in the day so it doesn’t feel like we lost a chunk of hours in between.

Speaking of missing time, how did Glenn get away from those 3 walkers while he was writhing in agony? Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he did. I guess it’s just one of those things you have to suspend your disbelief for. At any rate, I’ll take Glenn alive because I thought for sure he was going, what with that “I love you,” to Maggie and all the heavy foreshadowing and close calls they’ve been giving him. But Glenn’s not out of the woods yet. (literally and figuratively) He’s injured outside the walls with the wolves nearby. (How chilling was that scene at the end where they looked through the pictures of the community?) I don’t read the comics, simply because I stumbled upon the show first, and now don’t want to spoil myself by reading ahead. From what I understand, people can die in the comics and live in the show or vice versa, or like Daryl, only exist in the show, so I’m holding out hope for Glenn to stay for the long haul. Sigh, I’m going to end up sad aren’t I?

Finally, a lot of people had a problem with the scene where Carol threatened Pete saying things like “Why would a guy who beats his wife be afraid of an old lady?” I’ll tell you why: Because Carol is a badass who stands up for herself, and Jessie is a pathetic blob of weakness. Pete is used to his tiny wife, and tinier kids taking his shit. He’s probably never come up against a strong woman in his life, and when it finally happened, he melted into a puddle of his own cowardice like all bullies do when finally confronted. I loved this scene. A victim of domestic violence herself, Carol is done taking shit from abusive husbands. I only wish Jessie could have stood up to Pete herself. Now she’s missed her chance to show strength, letting Carol, Rick, and the community solve her problem for her. All Jessie seems to do is cut hair and cry. Hopefully at least, she’ll inspire real women to take a more active role in their own abusive relationships. Hopefully she also starts showing some strength now, or she’ll surely be one of the next to die. Anyway, rock on, Carol.

Which leads me to the rest of the good:

There’s been so much good writing this season. I love how Rick told Jessie that you keep the windows in tact, you keep society in tact, and then he and Pete crashed through the window. I love how when Rick left Jessie’s house the first time, he saw kids walking dogs and holding balloons as though their society was storybook perfection. Rick is of course thinking, like the rest of us no, no it’s not. Your policy is to leave your own people behind to save yourselves. You’re weak. You allow women and children to be beaten so you can have a doctor. Your society actually kind of sucks. And after the fight with Pete, the red balloon flies into the air, the societal facade finally shattered.

But one of the best surprises from the last episode was Morgan! When I first saw him I thought “Wow, he’s become Donatello from the Ninja Turtles.” We learn that Morgan, now totally un “cray cray” values all human life. One of the most depressing recurring themes in the show is how little hope survives. As Rick says, people measure you in what they can take from you–how they can use you to live. There are very few humans left, and the ones who are left seem to only want to kill each other. Characters suffer and die, and rarely achieve any small victories that offer hope for any kind of future in this world. Morgan, like Glenn, offers hope. I loved the end scene, where he looked at Rick with fear and disgust, because something clearly has broken in Rick (and understandably so) that he no longer feels that value for everyone. Remember back in season one where he would put walkers out of their misery just to be kind?

Another good thing: Michonne really is with Rick! She had me wondering for a while. But not only did this episode solidify her loyalty to Rick, she took her katana back and the group is finally starting to seem like themselves again. They will not be lulled to sleep.

Despite some writing flaws in the finale, this episode was thoroughly entertaining. I heard some fans say it was the worst finale ever and bereft of action, and all I can ask is “What finale were you watching?” My heart was hammering the entire time, and I found it so refreshing that for once, no one (important) died.

The dead: Only Reg, Pete, and some unknowns and walkers! Yay!

I guess this was a sore spot for some people who were promised tears and blood, but I don’t want anyone to die. Enough main characters have died over the years. If the writers keep up their promise that no one is safe, soon there will be no one left, or at least no one we care about. You hear a lot of fans say if __________ dies, we riot. Or no matter who dies, we keep watching because it’s not just about one person. Both sides have merit. If everyone was safe, the show wouldn’t be suspenseful or real or hold our interest. But if too many of the main core die, I have to tell you, I’ll be part of the group who quits watching. I’m only partially invested in how the apocalypse affects human behavior. What I’m really interested in at this point is how it affects these particular characters’ behavior. Rick, Carl, Glenn, Maggie, Daryl, and Carol are who I am interested in. Maybe you can kill one or two more of them, (and fans would still be pissed) But what then? If they keep killing off one or two per finale, we don’t have too many finales left. And even if we do reach the end, without any of the characters who were on the journey, why should it matter? Right now, Rick, Carl, and Glenn are the deal breakers for me. I’d be sad to see the others go too, but I wouldn’t stop watching. For these three I think I would. Glenn is the most descent character left, as last night proved. His courageous act of forgiveness towards Nicholas solidified his unwillingness to kill unless absolutely necessary. Let me tell you something about Glenn: all he wants to do is help people and love Maggie. Please leave him alone.

As for Rick, he’s the main character. I’ve been watching HIS journey, really, since the beginning, and the journeys of those around him. I don’t want to see the others complete the journey without him. I keep saying “complete journey” but I don’t even know if that’s a possibility. As of now, it looks like the writers will keep bringing in new characters and killing off others. It could go on ad infinitum in that way. Whereas in Breaking Bad, they had a set number of seasons in mind, a clear ending in mind, and made every moment up until that ending count. I’d quite like to see something like that on The Walking Dead, but I have a bad feeling that I won’t.

Carl has to be the future of the show, and of the world. It’s so interesting to see kids grow up in this world. It will be all Judith knows. I want to see someone reach adulthood with this as their normal, and see how it continues to affect them. Plus, if Carl dies, Rick will be destroyed, and I don’t want that. Besides, terrible things can happen to characters without them dying. It doesn’t always have to be death to equal conflict and drama. Sometimes things get much more interesting when there’s more characters alive to harbor all that conflict. Now that Pete’s gone, so will that conflict be.

Feel free to disagree. In fact, I insist on hearing all opinions! What were your thoughts on the season finale? Please comment below.

10 Things The X-Files Taught Me

The X-Files is back and I just can’t keep calm about it! I’ve been watching since I was six years old, and have waited thirteen years for new episodes, but I know without doubt it will be worth the wait. This show and its characters have meant so much to me, and I know I’ll share the excitement with many other Philes when we see Mulder and Scully light up the dark places with their flashlights again on January 24. While we’re waiting, here are ten important things I learned from growing up watching The X-Files.

1. Don’t give up. Or the value of hope.

This is a theme on the show that runs from season one, all the way to the most recent movie, I Want To Believe, and I expect to see it in the new revival as well. No matter how much adversity Mulder and Scully face–and it’s a lot–ranging from loss of family members, kidnapping, threatening, disease, memory theft, near-death experiences, mind games, and Cigarette Smoking Man burning their life’s work to ash–they never, ever quit. Scully got close once, in the movie Fight the Future, when she had finally reached her limit of never having acquired any physical evidence to back up their claims. And her wavering almost made Mulder lose his faith too. But in the end of Fight the Future:

xfiles-ftf-scully-quit-now-they-win

And at the end of the series:

Scully: Why would I accept defeat? Why would I accept it, if you won’t? Mulder, you say that you’ve failed, but you only fail if you give up. And I know you – you can’t give up. It’s what I saw in you when we first met. It’s what made me follow you… why I’d do it all over again.

Mulder: And look what it’s gotten you.

Scully: And what has it gotten you? Not your sister. Nothing that you’ve set out for. But you won’t give up, even now. You’ve always said that you want to believe. But believe in what Mulder? If this is the truth that you’ve been looking for, then what is left to believe in?

Mulder: I want to believe that… the dead are not lost to us. That they speak to us… as part of something greater than us – greater than any alien force. And if you and I are powerless now, I want to believe that if we listen, to what’s speaking, it can give us the power to save ourselves.

Scully: Then we believe the same thing.

Mulder: Maybe there’s hope.

And at the end of I want to Believe:

217698a6798ed9ce898bd7fc40aa4771

Mulder and Scully will never give up. They don’t have it in them. I don’t want to have it in me either.

2. The importance of wanting.

X-Files-I-Want-To-Believe-Poster1“I want to believe” is so much more than just words on a poster. It’s a mantra–a way of life. What we want, if we want it badly enough, can become what’s real.

“I want to believe” means never accepting the futility of the quest. If Mulder loses his belief, his passion, he would give up. Those are the darkest points in the show–the moments where Mulder thinks he wants to believe too badly, and that he has believed lies, and that his willingness to believe has led to all the misfortune in his life. But Mulder is that guy who everyone thinks is crazy, and is completely right about the oncoming storm. There is a conspiracy, there are aliens, people are out to get him, and if he ever stopped believing that, we would all be doomed, because there would be no one left advocating for the human race.

Hope, drive, goals, something to live for, the idea that there must be something more than what we know–what’s the point of living without that feeling?

3. Science and faith are not mutually exclusive.

Mulder shows little to no interest in religion in the show. However, he does believe in the paranormal, in ghosts, in at least some type of afterlife. Scully, the skeptic scientist, was ironically raised to believe in God, and never takes off the gold cross she wears around her neck. She refuses to believe in anything paranormal without hard evidence, yet believes God is watching over her unquestioningly, and this has often helped her cope with the most difficult moments in her life. A few of those moments have even swayed Mulder to her way of thinking, especially in the last episode when he touches his thumb to Scully’s cross and then to her lips, and the two confess that they ultimately want to believe in the same things.

But one of the most interesting moments in the show comes at the end of “Redux II” in season 5. Desperately seeking a cure for Scully’s terminal cancer, they’ve tried everything from radiation therapy, to Cigarette Smoking Man’s magical computer chip placed under the skin of her neck. It is never revealed to the viewer what officially sends Scully’s cancer into remission, but what we do know for sure is that she doesn’t start getting better until she embraces her faith and starts praying for a miracle.

reduxii_zpsd02169b2
“You’ll be in my prayers.”

a208b9af4b345ab6c5919805fb4448b5

 When it comes to science and faith, you can hold them both sacred. And it doesn’t hurt to believe in something divine.

4. Small victories matter, and they’re sometimes the only ones we get.

Through all of Mulder and Scully’s hard work in Fight the Future (and if you want to know exactly how much hard work, you need to watch the movie because I can’t possibly list it all here) all they are ultimately able to do is get the X-Files reopened:

Conrad Strughold: Oh, you look hot and miserable. Why have you traveled all this way?

Cigarette Smoking Man: We have business to discuss.

Conrad Strughold: You have regular channels.

Cigarette Smoking Man: This involves Mulder.

Conrad Strughold: Ah, that name. Again and again.

Cigarette Smoking Man: He’s seen more than he should.

Conrad Strughold: What has he seen? Of the whole, he has seen but pieces.

Cigarette Smoking Man: He’s determined now, reinvested.

Conrad Strughold: He’s but one man. One man alone cannot fight the future.

Cigarette Smoking Man: Yesterday, I received this.

[hands him a telegram]

Conrad Strughold: [reads it, then drops it with a worried look] Oh…

[we see that it reads: “X-Files reopened. Stop. Please advise. Stop”]

This doesn’t seem like much, after you’ve rooted for them throughout the entire movie, but a small victory can lead to a big one later. The X-Files being reopened will lead to Mulder and Scully continuing to fight the good fight, uncover more truths, and most importantly, keep their faith alive.

They may never be vindicated, but that doesn’t mean the journey wasn’t worth while. The universe is vast and we are so small. We can only control what we do. And Mulder and Scully stand up and fight the good fight every time, no matter how often they fail. Small victories matter, and they’re sometimes the only ones we get.

5. Teamwork: because no one gets there alone.

One year for Scully’s birthday, Mulder gives her an Apollo key chain, and Scully has a nice, long, tear-filled, two-part episode to ponder its meaning. At the end, while Mulder and Scully look at the stars, she says:

“I was thinking about this gift that you gave me for my birthday. You never got to tell me why you gave it to me or what it means. But I think I know. I think that you appreciate that there are extraordinary men and women–extraordinary moments when history leaps forward on the backs of these individuals. What can be imagined, can be achieved. You must dare to dream, but it is no substitute for perseverance and hard work. And teamwork, because no one gets there alone. And while we commemorate the greatness of these events and the individuals who achieve them, we cannot forget the sacrifices of those who make these achievements and dreams possible.”

Mulder jokes that he just thought it was a cool key chain, but it really is a symbol for the hard work they put in with each other and for each other, and an expression of his gratitude that she is in his life.

In Fight the Future, Mulder tells Scully:

“I don’t know if I wanna do this alone. I don’t even know if I can.”

Mulder and Scully only trust each other, and can only count on each other. All you need is one person. But you at least need one. If you try to go it alone, you will eventually perish under the weight of the solitary journey. But with a good friend shouldering half the burden, anything is possible.

6. Friendship is just as important as romantic love.

Chris Carter kept us waiting for seven long years for the obvious love between Mulder and Scully to come through officially on screen. But even if they’d never had a physically romantic relationship, what they had–each other’s company–would have been enough.

Having someone to depend on, lean on, who is always there for you, makes all the other tragedy in their lives worth it.

7. What true love is.

Mulder and Scully’s relationship did finally evolve into a romantic one, and I think it’s the truest love I have ever seen on television or elsewhere. In the beginning, all their affection was shown through concern for one another, worry, jealousy, a hand-hold, a touch, a hug, a meaningful look, a poignant moment. There was zero kissing for seven years, but it was obvious there was love between them. As Chris Carter says, Mulder loves Scully, and Scully loves Mulder.

When Scully informs Mulder she has cancer in season 4, Mulder is forced to confront his feelings for his partner. He can’t live without her. Later, as Scully lies dying of cancer in her hospital bed, Mulder all but falls apart. He realizes how close he is to losing her, and cries at her bedside while she sleeps, holding her hand.

hqdefault

The tables are turned in season 7 when Mulder is the one in danger. After a horrifying ordeal with CSM tampering with his brain, and imagining living an entire other life of creature comforts without his quest, in which aliens end up destroying the earth, Scully saves Mulder in more ways than one. She physically gets him out of the operating room, but in his hallucination, she snaps him out of his metaphorical slumber demanding he “get up and fight the fight.” When he recovers he tells her: “The end of my world was unrecognizable and upside down. There was one thing that remained the same. You… were my friend, and you told me the truth. Even when the world was falling apart, you were my constant… my touchstone.”

10388103_795828993788169_8541463189829601146_n

Scully sacrifices a prominent career in medicine, her sister, and her health to follow Mulder on his quest. Mulder goes on an epic, dangerous journey multiple times to cure Scully’s inoperable brain cancer, and save her from alien experiments. He literally goes to the ends of the Earth for her in Fight the Future when he rescues her from Antarcica. Mulder and Scully are there for each other in the good times and bad, can always count on the other, and always feel safe, comforted, and loved in the other’s company. That is true love.

8. The underrated value of truth.

It’s rare in this life that we ever actually know what’s true. Greed rules, lies reign, dishonesty often prevails. Even if Mulder and Scully never made the truth known to the world (yet*) To have it just for themselves, to know it, is something they never stop searching for. At times, it may not seem important, but why should we just accept whatever we’re fed? Why not try to uncover it? When you really think about it, it starts to eat away at you, like it does Mulder.

Agent Monica Reyes (In defense of Mulder): “What is the point of all of this? To destroy a man who seeks the truth or to destroy the truth so no man can seek it?”

Fox Mulder: “I’d like to congratulate you. On succeeding where so many before you have failed. A bullet between the eyes would’ve been preferable to this charade. I’ve learned to pretend over the past 9 years. Pretend that my victories mattered only to realize that no one was keeping score’. To realize that liars do not fear the truth if there are enough liars. That the devil is just one man with a plan, but evil, true evil is a collaboration of men which is what we have here today. If I am a guilty man, my crime is in daring to believe, that the truth will out and that no one lie can live forever. I believe it still. Much as you try to bury it, the truth is out there. Greater than your lies the truth wants to be known. You will know it. It’ll come to you, as it’s come to me, faster than the speed of light. You may believe yourselves rid of your headache now, and maybe you are, but you’ve only done it by cutting off your own heads.”

The truth wants to be known. And it deserves to, for the vindication of those seeking it everywhere.

 9. Self Confidence.

Don’t care what anyone thinks of you. Mulder certainly doesn’t:

“I’m the key figure in an ongoing government charade, the plot to conceal the truth about the existence of extraterrestrials. It’s a global conspiracy, actually, with key players in the highest levels of power, that reaches down into the lives of every man, woman, and child on this planet, so, of course, no one believes me. I’m an annoyance to my superiors, a joke to my peers. They call me Spooky. Spooky Mulder, whose sister was abducted by aliens when he was just a kid and who now chases after little green men with a badge and a gun, shouting to the heavens or to anyone who will listen that the fix is in, that the sky is falling and when it hits it’s gonna be the shit-storm of all time.”

This show teaches you to be confident in yourself no matter what anyone else thinks. It doesn’t matter if the whole world thinks you’re crazy. Be you, believe what you believe in, and one day,  even if it takes decades, you will prove everyone wrong. And even if not, you lived your life in a way that was true to you, and that’s enough.

Furthermore, you never have to compromise who you are. See my previous post on Dana Scully: https://alyssawaugh.com/2015/03/24/kick-ass-women-of-scifi-fantasy-dana-scully/

10. Do what’s right.

This is something every character on the show struggles with.  For some, like Skinner, the decision is made more difficult by threats and precarious situations. Krycek can never decide what side he’s really on, but in the end, is usually just out for himself. Even Kersh has a moral epiphany in the series finale, and saves Mulder, doing “what he should have done a long time ago.” Mulder and Scully, will fight to do it every time, no matter the cost. That cost is usually the highest–the loss of family members, health, respectability, your life’s work, your sanity. But they never give up. They keep at it because they believe in what they do, and that bringing about justice is always right.

Even if you become an annoyance to your superiors and a joke to your peers, stand up for what you believe in, like Mulder does. The world will always need people like Mulder. Mulder not only stands up for the little guy, but represents him. This is why I love the Max storyline. Even though it’s short, Max is one of my favorite characters. Max’s story ends tragically, but that’s why we need Mulder to live on–so that Max and others like him will never be forgotten. Mulder is the only one who believes their stories, or cares about their plight. Mulder represents the Maxes of the world: The losers, the nerds, the geeks, the weirdos, the uncool, unpretty, and unbelieved–people who are never heard, people who when heard are called crazy, those beaten down by life at every turn, losing friends, family, and respectability, while acquiring diseases and alien tortures. Max is that weird guy, with the glasses and crazy hair that everyone always made fun of, only to die a horrible death without ever being vindicated. We need Mulder and Scully investigating that death, making sure it wasn’t for nothing, or at the very least, that the one thing Max has at the end, is that someone knows the truth. Mulder is the voice of the voiceless.

I want to shed new light on Scully’s quote from earlier:

“And while we commemorate the greatness of these events and the individuals who achieve them, we cannot forget the sacrifices of those who make these achievements and dreams possible.”

We can not forget the Maxes. If we do, nothing in our own journeys will be meaningful or right.

image(3) image(1)

Mulder keeps Max’s hat on the coat rack in the X-Files office as a constant reminder to keep fighting for the truth.


These were just 10 of so many poignant moments on the show. There are so many valuable truths to be discovered in the writing of The X-Files, and I discover more each time I delve back in.  What are some things you learned from the show? Share your favorite moments below. Until the revival episodes air, I’ll miss it so.

Can you believe it’s been over 20 years?

X-Philes–We never stop believing 🙂

Kick-Ass Women of SciFi & Fantasy: Dana Scully

dana-scully

“Baby’ me, and you’ll be peeing through a catheter.”

Dana Scully….

DanaScully

She was on The X-Files in 1993, and as one fan says:

scully_motivational_by_ryuyasha_mercury-d3r898d

If you don’t understand what we mean by most women on T.V. today being portrayed as complete idiots, watch two seconds of any episode of Two and a Half Men. Go on, try to formulate an argument that women on Two and a Half Men are portrayed in any quasi realistic way.

indexBut as it always has, the science fiction genre shows women in strong and intelligent roles. On the cult SciFi classic The X-Files which aired in 1993, Dana Scully became an inspiration for strong women everywhere.

Despite her small stature, rest assured that Dana Scully can kick ass. She’s handy with a microscope as well as a gun, physically fit, can take down a man twice her size, and has on multiple occasions. Remember when she beat the bajesus out of Donnie Pfaster, destroying her apartment in the process? Man, did that guy have it coming. In addition, Scully is mentally and emotionally strong, not only holding her head high through her sister’s murder but always demanding answers, even if she had to find them herself. The characters on this show go through a lot–A LOT–of emotional destruction, and Scully is strong through it all, even giving Mulder a shoulder to cry on when he breaks down over his mother’s death.

Dana Scully is a medical doctor, forensic scientist, and an FBI agent, making it all look easy in a “man’s world.” She gave up a promising career in medicine to the disappointment of her father, because she’s a strong, confident woman who does what she wants, and doesn’t live her life to please others. Scully thought she could make a difference at the FBI. And she has.

unnamed

Scully totally legitimizes Mulder’s division, the X-Files, which is often subject to ridicule due to the paranormal nature of the cases he investigates. Let’s be honest. Mulder is such a nutbar when we first meet him that he was going nowhere fast. Dana Scully humanizes him and evens him out, providing a logical counterbalance to his crazy.

tumblr_inline_mz5upwydQq1qhyo98

Chris Carter has said that when he created the show, women were still generally thought of as emotional, artistic, right-brained characters. He wanted to do a role reversal in making Mulder the emotional one, and Scully the scientist. The result? Dana Scully’s character has inspired hundreds of little girls to go into STEM majors, particularly the sciences. Scully made it not only normal for a woman to go into this kind of work, but cool. It’s what’s known as The Scully Effect–the noticeable uptick of women in STEM majors since 1993. Gillian Anderson still receives letters from girls she inspired with her character, and we owe her for bringing Scully to life, because she’s the absolute perfect actress for the job.

tumblr_nfk50zsIpP1tlik6so1_500

Chris Carter has also said that the role of Scully was meant to be played by a tall, blonde, voluptuous vixen.  Don’t forget this was the era of Baywatch, and Pamela Anderson was the epitome of what was considered sexy. You might be thinking that today “geek chic” is all the rage with shows like CSI, NCIS, Bones, and Fringe. Well let me tell you, that’s only because The X-Files took a risk by going in a completely different direction. In walks Gillian for her audition at 5’3 with red, unruly hair, freckles, and a healthy body weight that would make most models want to throw up their 3 daily calories. Luckily for us, her chemistry with David Duchovny was phenomenal and she was cast in the part. I’m so glad it was Gillian above anyone else, and here’s why:

Gillian Anderson, of course, is gorgeous. But she wasn’t the “ideal woman” people wanted to see on T.V. She was short, un-anorexic, hadn’t yanked out all her eyebrow hair, and since it was the 90s, dressed in baggy clothes with enormous shoulder pads, and wore short heeled shoes, doing nothing to elongate her short stature. She was beautiful, but she was REAL, not some plastic, airbrushed, complex-inducing swimsuit model. Scully looked like a woman you might actually see working at the FBI. She was real, and she was gorgeous anyway. Dana Scully never compromised a damn thing about herself or her appearance.

To illustrate this point, Scully falls in love with Mulder, and watches for seven years as past flames, and a few new ones, come in and out of his life. These women are always beautiful, tall, and thin, and sometimes wearing short shorts (Bambi), or undressing in his apartment for no apparent reason (Diana Fowley). Scully never changes her appearance or her clothes to get Mulder’s attention. She never wears a shorter skirt, or unbuttons her blouse. Her outfits become more modern as the seasons progress, but that’s more the styles of the time changing than her character. She is a complete professional, never allowing Mulder to see her out of full FBI attire (I think we see her in jeans a total of once, while she’s on vacation) and always closes her bathrobe tightly before answering the door in her pajamas. Scully is what’s known as a lady–something that’s becoming out dated, and old-fashioned.

But guess what. She get’s Mulder anyway! And she doesn’t have to compromise one iota of her integrity to do it.  He falls in love with her without the short shorts, or overt sexual advances. Scully did it with brains, wit, grace, strength, personality, and often by showcasing her unadulterated honesty in telling him the truth. Scully doesn’t try to be anything other than what she is (she has rather more important things to do, like discover the origins of an ancient alien virus) and gets exactly what she wants because of it, whether it be a job, answers to a case, or a relationship.

tumblr_lmz5nfun5B1qk0sajo1_500

Earlier this week concerning a post on strong female television characters,  I read a lot of comments complaining that we are just looking at actresses, and that actresses are nothing special–not like strong women in real life. I disagree. Little girls watch T.V. and see that it’s not only men in exciting professions, and that it’s not only normal, but cool to speak your mind, be authoritative, strong and go on adventures. Fictional characters can inspire real greatness, just like Uhura inspired a young Whoopi Goldberg, and just like Dana Scully inspired thousands of girls to go into science majors. Words matter, and so do fictional characters. They can make a difference. If I may borrow a magnificent quote from Albus Dumbledore: “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?

Remember our discussion on Uhura, and if any little girls out there were paying attention? They were. They still are. I was a nerd in school, in both Science and English. I still am a nerd. I’m short, and certainly don’t have the face of a model– something the mean people in my school never failed to call attention to. I’ve had friends say “you seem like the kind of girl I’d have hated in high school because you’re blonde and skinny,” (It doesn’t matter. Mean people can, and will, find something wrong with you) and “I always just assumed you were popular in high school because you’re always so confident.” Part of the reason I’m confident today is because when I was growing up, Dana Scully made me feel cool even though I was a smart “nerd,” beautiful even though I was short and imperfect, tough even though I was a small girl, and strong especially when it was most difficult to be. For still inspiring girls all over the world to this day, including myself, Dana Scully is and always will be a kick-ass woman of SciFi.

Needless to say, The X-Files was my absolute favorite show growing up, and still is. We X-Philes have been waiting with bated breath for the return of Dana Scully in the show’s revival later this year. Perhaps it’s fate that the week I decided to write about Scully, Fox confirmed six new episodes! I’m moving my post up, in conjunction with this most joyous event!  I can’t wait to see this kick-ass woman back on T.V.!

Kick-Ass Women of SciFi & Fantasy: Rose Tyler

rose-tyler-doctor-who-for-whovians-28291458-1024-768

“You don’t just give up. You don’t just let things happen. You make a stand! You say no! You have the guts to do what’s right, even when everyone else just runs away.”

Let me ask you something: does that look like the face of someone you want to mess with? I didn’t think so. Don’t let the fact that she’s a pretty, 100 pound, blonde girl lull you into thinking she won’t kick your ass if you mess with the people or the planet she loves. If you piss her off, you better run for your life, because this girl is capable of carrying twice her body weight in guns:

RoseTyler2

For this week’s kick-ass woman of SciFi,  I give you the big Bad Wolf herself, Doctor Who’s Rose Tyler, Defender of the Earth.

Rose Tyler is strong and brave, throwing herself into any new situation with guts and zeal, like the first time she entered the T.A.R.D.I.S., dropping everything to travel to other eras–other planets–with The Doctor in exploration of time and space, despite the inherent dangers in such an adventure.

24514
Rose running into the T.A.R.D.I.S. with speed and a smile

Rose Tyler is resilient. She doesn’t have it in her to give up. Ever. Even in “Doomsday,” when The Doctor said she could never see him again because they existed in two separate universes that couldn’t be crossed, she sought him out when the universes converged again in “Journey’s End,” at least getting to say a proper goodbye to The Doctor before the final, tragic separation. By proper goodbye, I mean one that doesn’t end like this:

BIBpLXB.jpg

The words you may have noticed missing there, before he disappears, are “I love you.” Yeah. As per usual, for a freaking Time Lord, The Doctor has just awful timing and leaves us all in tears. Speaking of which, if you’d like to cry today, click below.

In addition to her resilience, especially in this moment, Rose is brave and fiercely loyal. Even though she knows she’ll lose her family–everyone and everything she knows and cares about–to an alternate universe forever, she is firm and sure in her choice to stand by The Doctor’s side in defense of Earth. Rose knows what she wants, and no one, not even The Doctor, is going to tell her otherwise.

I made my choice a long time ago, and I’m never gonna leave you.

Can we just talk about this quote for a minute? Think for just a moment how dedicated to someone you would have to be, how strong you would have to be, to accept that you will never see your own mother again, that you might very well die if you stay, but still to say with conviction “You are not sending me off to safety. I am going to stay right here with you, and we are going to save the world damn it!” Like I said before, Rose basically has two settings:

roseRose Tyler - Bad_Wolf_by_formadmenonly


    

 adorable        and      I will destroy you.

Doctor Who hints at the fact that Rose isn’t book smart, didn’t like high school, and at 19-years-old, is working in a shop instead of attending college. However, she possesses an intelligence about people and situations that can’t be measured in report cards or tests, often seeing key patterns in mysteries that The Doctor himself overlooks. What’s more impressive, is she keeps the strength to go on saving the world even after she loses him. That’s introspective intelligence. Rose is confident in and sure of herself. She derives self-worth not from the opinions of people around her, and not from the men in her life, but from her opinions of herself.  Rose loves who she is. You go, girl.

the-doctor-and-rose-wall

This means she has to get over this emotionally devastating, tragic separation, (metaphoric for a breakup). Even though you can see the hurt clearly dripping down her face, Rose picks herself up, and realizes that life still matters even after she’s lost her romantic partner–a strong and admirable trait I can’t stress enough for young women to emulate when going through a breakup. There’s more to life. You are more than what a boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse makes you.

But my absolute favorite aspect of Rose Tyler: she is the Bad Wolf. The part of the show I’m referring to here, is the story arc in which Rose and The Doctor keep seeing the words “Bad Wolf” wherever and whenever they go. They don’t know what the words mean, and neither does the audience, until in “The Parting of the Ways,” when faced with certain death, The Doctor tricks Rose into safety by sending her home in the T.A.R.D.I.S. to protect her while dying himself at the hands (er, robotic plunger arm things) of the Daleks. Rose would never willingly leave him, especially in times of crisis, so she kicks and screams the whole way home, then immediately starts working on a way to get back to him. That’s my girl!

Knowing what she is about to do is dangerous, and unpredictable, she looks into the heart of the T.A.R.D.I.S. as a last resort. The T.A.R.D.I.S. gives Rose all the knowledge of time and space–all The Doctor has and more, so that she can operate the ship and find her way back to him. When she arrives, she is no longer “just” Rose Tyler, but the Bad Wolf. She emerges from the T.A.R.D.I.S., to The Doctor’s shock and awe, as a glowing, powerful goddess, finally revealing the mystery of the words saying: “I am the Bad Wolf. I create myself. I take the words; I scatter them in time and space. A message to lead myself here.”

 As the Bad Wolf, Rose stands up to an entire Dalek army poised to exterminate everyone on Earth and says:

main-qimg-92f8042ace314b373b64bddb7ea4b524

Hell yeah! She saves the Doctor and the Earth, though she herself is dying from far too much knowledge of the universe burning her brain. The Doctor saves her with a kiss, taking her pain into himself which would cause him to die, and regenerate. I love the way they sacrifice for one another 🙂

i_think_you_need_a_doctor_by_licieoic-d7toho2
“I think you need a doctor.”

But the best part of Bad Wolf, is what’s not explicitly said in the episode. To me, Bad Wolf means that a girl–just a regular, small, young, girl who isn’t brilliant or rich, and who otherwise wouldn’t stand out in the world–is anything but “just” a girl. Bad Wolf means “I am the big bad wolf. Not a little girl in a cape. Not a victim. I have the power to decide who I want to be (I create myself) and I have the power to shape my destiny” (a message to lead myself here).

The other really cool thing about Bad Wolf is and always has been a theme of the show: that words are more important and more powerful than any physical weapon. How does Rose save The Doctor and the world? Ultimately, by writing two words all over time and space: Bad Wolf.

Finally, at the long list of her awesome qualities, Rose is inspiring. Let’s not forget this wonderful little tidbit:

d1370acbff2195b7bb96266ba3e59a43

Long after Rose is gone, her spirit, her resilience, her loyalty, love, and courage will be inspiring The Doctor to go on and stand up in the face of danger and do what’s right. He knows how strong, and how courageous and capable she is, as evidenced in this dialogue from “The Satan Pit:”

“If I destroy this planet I destroy the gravity field. The rocket. The rocket loses protection, falls into the black hole. I’ll have to sacrifice Rose. {the Beast laughs.} Except that implies—in this big grand scheme of Gods and Devils—that she’s just a victim. But I’ve seen a lot of this Universe. I’ve seen fake gods and bad gods and demigods and would-be gods. And out of all that, out of that whole pantheon, if I believe in one thing—just one thing—I believe in her.” {he breaks the vase.}

The Doctor knows that Rose can take care of herself, and she does save herself. He never has to worry about protecting a damsel in distress. Rose is the hero of her own story.

In “The Shakespeare Code” he professes his faith in her again:

tumblr_lx1e8gsVio1r44digo6_r2_250
A witch tries to hurt the broken-hearted Doctor with the name “Rose”

For her bravery, resilience, loyalty, confidence, and ability to inspire, Rose Tyler will forever be a Kick-Ass Woman of SciFi.

What are your favorite Rose Tyler moments? Please leave a comment below 🙂

The Foo Fighters and Creative Writing: Sonic Highways Review

Foo_Fighters_8LP_Sonic_Highways

As a long time Foo Fighters fan, (I’m talking way back to the Kurt Cobain tragedy when I was just a kid, back to when Dave first formed the band, way back when they were doing covers for The X-Files soundtrack and much of their audience consisted of other X-Philes like me) I was first in line to buy their latest album, Sonic Highways. At the height of their popularity, the band created this masterpiece by traveling to eight U.S. cities famous for their influence on American music: Chicago, Washington D.C., Nashville, Austin, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Seattle, and New York City.  In each city, front man Dave Grohl interviewed local musicians on their struggles and successes in the industry, and used the journal he kept to write eight songs–one for each city they visited. He turned real words and emotions into lyrics, and created songs that are a heartfelt collaboration of various stories. If you want to hear someone’s story who was interviewed, you can listen to this album and know their story. That’s a remarkable thing. After all, as The Doctor says, “we’re all just stories in the end. Just make it a good one.” The band documented this journey in the HBO series, Sonic Highways, ending each episode with a live performance of that song, the lyrics flashing on screen for an immersive reading and listening experience. You can view the song “Something from Nothing” below.

 

The theme of secrets–the keys to happiness and peace in life–can be discovered throughout the entire album, much like the band’s metaphoric river running through multiple songs. You may have noticed the lyrics “There is a river I found / Into the wild / under the ground” in the video above. “Something From Nothing” is the first track on the album. This is an excerpt of lyrics from the final track, “I am a River:”

There is a secret
I found a secret
Behind a Soho door

There is a reason
I found a reason
Beneath the subway floor

I found the water
The devils water
and walked along its shore…

A river
A river
a river running under ground

A river
A river
Is that what you want?
Is that what you really want?

This closing song on the album ends with Dave repeatedly belting out “I am a river!” Ever since I first started listening to Sonic Highways I’ve loved everything the river symbolizes: travel, adventure, progress, new beginnings, and following dreams. This album transcends music-making and proves that Dave is not only a musician, but a writer–a creative visionary.

This is one of those albums where you’re never tempted to hit “skip.” I love every song on it, from the hard rock of “The Feast and The Famine” to the Jim Morrison-esque crooning of “Outside” and “Subterranean” to the songs that fall in the middle like “Congregation” and “In the Clear” to the vaguely All-You-Need-Is-Love-sounding conclusion of “What Did I do/God As My Witness.”

But beyond the musical and lyrical prowess of this album, I have to applaud Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters for stepping up above the status quo, and creating a new way to go about making albums. Dave has said in the past that he’s no fan of doing things the same way over and over again–why do anything at all if you’re not going to get bigger and better, and push the limits of your creative endeavors every time? That’s exactly what the band does in this album and documentary. They’ve written something special. Listen to the album; watch the documentary. You won’t be disappointed.

This album has so much musical fluidity and lyrical variety that it is not only one of the best albums the band has ever produced, but makes for a great writing soundtrack as well. For writers, certain music get’s the creative juices flowing. I  listened to this album dozens of times during the month of November, or as it’s known in writing circles, NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, and wrote almost an entire draft of a new novel (about a road trip, of course).

Creativity inspires creativity.

Thanks, Dave. I’ll write with you any time.