In the season 7 finale “Requiem,” for the first time in a long line of denial we finally hear Scully say she has seen things she can’t deny. It’s a big moment, her finally acknowledging that aliens exist. The difference is she’s finally open to it.
Sure it might just be a convenient time for her to believe because David Duchovny is about to leave the show and they can turn the only character the fans have left into the believer and add a new skeptic in Doggett. It would work, because we love Scully just as much as Mulder, and the two have always been equal protagonists. But the reason the show still works after Mulder leaves, as the “main character,” is because the show really is just as much Scully’s, and has been from the start. In some ways it’s actually more her story. After all, she experiences the most change over the course of the series.
When Mulder enters the office, after Scully admitting what she can no longer deny, she’s staring at the I Want To Believe poster. This moment isn’t explicitly brought to the audience’s attention. In fact, the moment Scully really sees the poster for the first time is an easy one to miss. Mulder just starts talking to her and she looks away from it, uncrossing her arms and coming out of a deep thought. It’s about the “want” in I Want to Believe. The truth is out there; you just have to be open to it.
But why now, after 7 years? It was all her experience in Africa. She saw a little too much of the proof she’d been seeking. Not only alien ships with alien writing, but all intermingled with scripture from the Bible, complete with frightening plagues. Scully had always believed in God–ironic when she was always so skeptical about everything else. It’s even more ironic that her religious beliefs eventually lead her to believe in aliens. And it’s even more beautiful when you realize that Mulder’s experiences with the paranormal lead him to believe in Scully’s God as well.
Not long after “Requiem,” in the two-part season 8 premiere, “Within”/”Without,” we see Scully alone, out in the middle of the desert, searching desperately for Mulder with nothing more than a flashlight. It’s incredibly romantic, but also metaphoric for where she is on her journey. In the beginning, she opposed Mulder and stood within the majority of people who don’t believe in aliens. In the end Scully believes and she’s all alone, just as Mulder was alone in the beginning of the series.
“Wherever Mulder is, he damn well better be smiling,” Scully says, finally realizing the pain and frustration she put him through. Now Doggett gives her a taste of her own medicine.
Scully has finally become one of them–the Mulders and Maxes–the alone and unbelieved—-an outsider–and when she does, I have more respect for her than ever.