Saturday, January 16, 2016

Mulder's Many Fathers

In anticipation of the upcoming revival of The X-Files starting soon, an article I wrote years ago will be reprinted here. During the height of the show, when the Internet was still mostly a work in progress, I participated on an early message board,   One of my lengthy comments garnered some interest from an amateur fan magazine. They asked if they could publish my thoughts and I gave them permission. The only pay was receiving a copy of the magazine, where I was happy to just see my words in print. The Canadian  fan magazine Jigsaw stopped publishing many years ago. Here is the first of two articles of mine they published. A few clarifying  and updated changes have been made.

From the beginning, Fox Mulder has had an informant helping him. Deep Throat was first introduced in the second episode (which is named after him). The role of informant has been filled by someone ever since.  All of them have one thing in common; They seem to represent a commanding force that shapes who Mulder becomes as an investigator. Other informants are shades of what Deep Throat started out as.  At least one of these characters actually transforms into Fox's real father. It is because of this role of influence that I consider them fathers to Mulder.

Deep Throat was a reasonably friendly gentleman to Mulder who directed him to follow on information quests. He was a favorite informant among many X-Files fans. His approach to Mulder was not rushed like most of the other informants. When he was rushed, it was only to keep the truth from disappearing, and not for his own safety. His clues to Mulder -- and the viewer --  became an incentive for him to continue on his investigations. When Mulder was on the  brink of giving up on a case, Deep Throat showed up to usher him to continue.

Deep Throat was giving lessons to Mulder in investigating the paranormal and hidden agendas. He was preparing Mulder for the day when an informant would not be around. Perhaps he wanted Mulder to carry on the work he was already involved with. We don't know exactly how "inside" the system Deep Throat actually was. Even his name implies, because of real history, his role as an outside-insider who reveals what the public should know . . . but doesn't. Like a good father, he picked up Mulder when he fell. This way he slowly taught Mulder the tricks of the informant trade. Did he have hopes Mulder would become an informant like himself? A father who wants his son to follow in his footsteps?

Mulder's true father, William Mulder, is not what would be expected. He is not interested in what the underground and paranormal world held. As later episodes revealed, he was part of the group Mulder tries to uncover. The actual role his father played in the conspiracies is not known, but the implications are strong. Mulder's sister's abduction was in direct consequences of his father's ties to the "underground" government agenda.  Despite the sometimes contention, love existed between the father and son.  The best evidence for this was in "Anasazi" with the death scene in the bathroom. Mulder cradled his dying father in his arms as he cried above him.

It is no surprise that the show constantly mixes Mulder's father with Deep Throat. The happens first with "Blessing Way" and then int he final episode of season three. The special effects mold both together, one becoming the other. This is true to the story as well. They are honestly one character. Both helped Mulder become who he is with his obsessions. His real father helped him grow up, while possibly sparking his interest by taking his sister Samantha away. The other caused Mulder's curiosity to grow by giving him tantalizing clues to larger cover ups. The two are inseparable to the person that would become "Spooky" Mulder to his peers.

The character of X is also a father figure, but an abusive one at his worst. He had a rude directness that made it difficult to know what side he was mostly on. Unlike Deep Throat, there was not a feeling of trust and well being. He sometimes tried to direct Mulder away from the investigations. Still, he acted like a father by protecting him from danger and saving his life. He was to be feared almost as much as the Smoking Man. In fact, he and Mulder came to blows. It was the rebellious son relationship to the protective father trying to keep him alive.  He was a father trying to temper the son's obsessions.  Once X died, nothing remained to hold Mulder back from going beyond what would be prudent.

There is the implied possibility that the Smoking Man is Mulder's real father rather than William Mulder, however unlikely.  He might have had a serious relationship to Mulder's mother many years ago while working with his father. This would mean Fox has a stronger connection to his greatest foe than anyone realized. It might explain why the Smoking Man  has tried to directly kill Mulder. A physical or personal relationship may be a symbol for his active participation in Mulder's life.

The relationship of Mulder to the Smoking Man, even if symbolically related, takes on Oedipal characteristics. Mulder could be fighting his father through the past colleague without realizing the deep relationships, like the Greek story.  The hospital scene in "Herrenvolk" can be seen as an Oedipal-like reaction as Mulder tries to protect his mother. All of the important fathers in The X-Files are killed off, leaving the mothers behind.

By the forth season, Mulder and the X-Files he investigates become fathers. Mulder acts as one of the informants as he tried to protect a would-be snitch from assassination. His sister, if only a replicate, must also be taken under his protection. By the third show of the fourth season, Mulder comes out of the mysterious dark shadows to gather information. He slowly imitates all those who came before, but never reaches success because he is a natural outsider.

For a time, the show was a potential father for a whole new genre. The short lived Dark Skies was in response to The X-Files success. Another Chris Carter show Millennium lasted a few years before getting cancelled. The public became more aware of the paranormal and the idea of government conspiracy.  It popularized many now famous U.F.O. suspected events, such as area 51 and alien abductions.

Despite this, as the evidence indicates, many of the children it raised from its influence did not live long. Mulder and The X-Files have been failing parents. With all his intensity, Mulder eventually found his sister Samantha dead. Even her replicas were murdered under his supervision. The informant Covarrubias who he tried to control ended up conspiring against him.  The show itself could only replicate its own  good ratings. Still, television never was the same because of the contributions of its writers who developed unrelated, but popular, series.

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