For awhile now I’ve been seeing articles posted around the internet with the headline “Fox Mulder: The Worst FBI Agent Ever,” all due to something David Duchovny joked about a long time ago because of the show’s notorious unsolved cases where almost no episodes seem to get resolved. As much as I love David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, it always surprises me how little they know about the plot of their own show and how little they seem to get it sometimes (though yes, I know, it’s mostly in jest and makes for great interviews).
But as much as I’ve seen the above article, I’ve seen philes taking issue with it, commenting things like “I know he was only joking but this really bothers me.” And I have to say, it bothers me a bit too. Because in my estimation, Mulder is not only the hero of the show, but the best FBI agent ever.
Scully says something really great in the season 7 finale episode “Requiem.” She and Mulder are being audited and asked to justify what they spend on their cases when so little of them actually get solved. She says, “So much of what we do can’t be measured in standard terms.” “How would you measure it,” The auditor asks. She replies, “We open doors with the x-files that lead to other doors.” Aside from Scully’s assessment being spot on–they learn more and more about paranormal activity, more and more about the conspiracy, and tally up more and more small victories as the seasons go on and they open more doors–but aside from that…
Like, how do you arrest a ghost? Many of their cases aren’t “solved” because they simply can’t be. Not in the way the FBI and the real world want them to be. Not in any way that can be categorized or easily referenced.
That’s not what the show is about. Its not about taking down a bad guy every week, but about the larger unseen and unsubstantiated phenomena in the world. The X-Files is a story of small victories. It’s about the journey. About venturing into the darkest of places not knowing what supernatural monsters you might find there with nothing more than a flashlight. It’s about Mulder and Scully taking us on a journey with them to find out what really happened to victims no one else believes, and they often do, whether or not they can prove it. They often catch or stop a killer, whether or not they can arrest him or prove he exists. They usually learn what is really going on, when at first they knew nothing. It doesn’t have to be an arrest record, or a number of officially solved cases. Investigation, experience, growth, adventure, knowledge, the hug of a crying victim so grateful just for someone who will really listen to them, are all victories of their own.
Mulder cares for people. People are his main focus. Not just proving that aliens exist, but seeking out victims of horrible alien experiments and torture, and trying to help them. That’s why I chose the photo above for this article. It’s a picture of a man who cares. It’s a picture of the best FBI agent ever because he genuinely cares about every person on every case he investigates.
Mulder is often the only one out there that really cares for the victims in the x-files. Scully too of course, but she doesn’t always believe them. Mulder commiserates. He truly cares for the victims, for the fact that no one believes them, and he wants to help. And he does help. Regardless of whether his case record reflects that.