As promised, every week leading up to the X-Citing X-Files revival, I’m posting something nostalgic and with a certain paranormal bouquet. This week, let’s take a look back at some of the wonderfully unique gifts Mulder has given to Scully over the years.
In the season 2 episode, “One Breath,” Scully wakes up from a negative prognosis after her family has literally pulled the plug and given up on her. Mulder, who has been having an extremely difficult time dealing with his first ever taste of losing his best friend, visits her in the hospital with a unique gift. He doesn’t bring her flowers, or candy, but a VHS tape: “I brought you a present,” he says. “Superstars of the Super Bowl.” To which Scully sarcastically replies, “I knew there was a reason to live.” There’s so much to love about this scene. Is that really the movie he brought? Or was he making a joke to cover for something more sentimental? Or is that really what it is–something he had lying around his apartment? After all he’s been too worried and preoccupied to shop, and couldn’t just show up empty-handed. Is it something he feels they can enjoy watching together later? It certainly wouldn’t be the only time on the show that he tries to get her interested in football. And it’s not as though the two don’t watch movies together. At any rate, the gift reflects the stage in their relationship: we’ve known each other for over a year, and I’m doing my best to show that I have valued that time with you, and care for you.
In the season 4 episode, “Tempus Fugit,” one of my all time favorites, Mulder and Scully eat dinner where he surprises her with a dessert with a sparkler shining in it, a “Happy Birthday” song, and a pretty little gift box. Scully remarks that in 4 years working together, he’s never remembered her birthday, to which he retorts that he prefers to do it like dog years. I always figured that Mulder, often joking to deflect genuine emotion, simply has found something worth giving her this year. Think about it: the less someone makes a big deal of holidays and occasions, the less they give gifts, the more meaningful that gift will be when they finally decide to give it. In this episode, Mulder gives Scully a gift worthy of tears, though it may not seem that way at first.
Scully opens the gift box to reveal an Apollo 11 medallion commemorating that mission, and is grateful but relatively confused. As Mulder is about to explain why he gave it to her, all X-Files hell breaks loose and the agents embark on a tragic two-episode investigation. At the end of part two, “Max,” after losing friends but not faith, Mulder and Scully stare at the stars, and Scully tells Mulder she figured out what he was going to say:
“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, as per usual deflecting the depth of that sentiment, jokes that he just thought it was a cool key chain. But of course, Scully is right. This gift is made all the more important by the stage of the relationship that it is presented in–the season of Scully’s terminal cancer diagnosis, where Mulder once again will be struggling with the reality of losing her. Mulder realizes that things he used to be able to do alone, aren’t worth it anymore, and that he no longer wants to continue this quest without her. That’s what the medallion means.
In the season 6 episode, “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas,” even though the agents said they weren’t going to exchange gifts, at the end they reveal that they “got each other a little something.” The audience doesn’t get to see the gifts revealed, but only Mulder and Scully smiling while excitedly shaking boxes and untying ribbons. I actually like that we don’t know what they got each other, because we get to speculate, and that’s so much fun.
To me, it looks and sounds like Scully got Mulder a VHS tape (oh, 90s). But what is it? The two obviously enjoy watching movies together, if the season 7 episode “Je Souhaite” is any indication. But what movie would she choose for him? Or maybe, she is re-gifting Super Stars of the Superbowl simply so they could share in the memory of that moment, when their relationship, and the gifts themselves were less evolved. And it looks like Mulder gets her….I don’t know….a salami? But I rest assured that whatever it is, his explanation is better than the gift itself. After all, things don’t matter–it’s only stuff. Words, loyalty, friendship, love, trust, and showing appreciation for those qualities is what matters.
Later, in the season 6 episode, “The Unnatural,” (another episode that appears in my top 5 favorites overall) Mulder is prompted into an emotional epiphany by Arthur Dales, who stresses that Mulder need pay less attention to the heart of the mystery, and more to the mystery of the heart. Mulder is touched, and moved by Dales’s story of love–all kinds of love–being more important than any alien truth, so again, he decides to show his ever-growing appreciation for his partner. He calls Scully to meet him for a “very early or very late birthday present.” In other words, he gives her a “no-reason present,” which are often the best kinds because they prove you don’t need a special date or occasion to show your love and appreciation for someone.
Under the stars, and with a beautiful song playing in the background of the episode, Mulder teaches Scully to play baseball–to momentarily forget her cares and worries that he and his quest have inflicted on her over the years, and to let her know that her loyalty has never been undervalued. Though of course he doesn’t have to, Mulder insists on putting his arms around her, helping her position her hips, and hold the bat. The gifts are becoming more romantic as their relationship does. It is a truly beautiful moment on the show, and with all the horror the two experience, those are so wonderful and rare.
By the time we reach the season 8 episode, “Empedocles,” their relationship has evolved pretty much as far as a romantic one can. Our dynamic duo is having a baby together, and to a pregnant Scully, Mulder presents a doll. This is such a sweet, and truly touching physical gift, that Scully makes this face when she opens it:
Mulder explains that the doll is a family keepsake that he discovered while going through his late mother’s things. Scully helped Mulder through his mother’s tragic death, and we know how much a special family heirloom would mean to him. That he would give it to Scully solidifies that she and the baby are now his family. And as always, the thought behind Mulder’s gift makes it all the more meaningful.
Well, X-Philes, did I miss any wonderful, unique Mulder gifts over the years? What are your favorites and why? Please comment below, and don’t forget to visit every week for more X-Files nostalgia as we move closer and closer to the revival.