210.5 The K Files | Chris Carter’s Christmas Carol | The X Files 201 Days Rewatch
Chris Carter went on a creative tear in the sixth season, as if all the myth stories in his head came exploding out via the fears, insecurities, and finally, the romance between Mulder and Scully as their characters progress through the seasons. This story stands out even in that sterling assemblage of episodes, however, vastly to the morose charms of Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin, but also because CC managed to make a modern Christmas Carol. He updated Dickens, in a way.
This chapter in the show’s narrative contains a rainbow of colorful episodes that reveal the magnetic pull between Mulder and Scully and how they are falling deeply and inextricably in love with each other. We see fears and insecurities play out via a dreamlike narrative. The characters are making personal emotional progress here, in preparation for the consummation of their relationship in the seventh season.
We also see their devotion to each other encoded into the story. As per usual, Chris Carter embeds the message into the elemental story, then layers the trappings until some things between Mulder and Scully are overt, but most of the relationship progresses via inference.
When you dig deeper in these episodes, there are powerful truths to uncover. Scully reveals the crux of the story early on in her nervous monologue upon arriving at the house and getting spooked:
“I mean, Mulder, it doesn’t take an advanced degree in psychology to understand the… the unconscious yearnings that these imaginings satisfy. You know, the-the longing for immortality the hope that there is something beyond this mortal coil… that-that we might never be long without our loved ones. I mean, these are powerful, powerful desires. I mean, they’re the very essence of what make us human. The very essence of Christmas, actually.”
Scully says the above to Mulder to debunk his ghost story, but is also telling herself this to alleviate her own fear, ironically. Everyone fears death and must face their mortality to succeed in life. The way most people overcome the hopelessness of death is through belief. If you believe strongly enough in the Christian idea of the afterlife for example, you won’t be afraid to die because you know you’ll go to heaven. Etc.
The two ghosts, played with wry panache by the inimitable Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin, embody the opposite of Scully’s implacable beliefs. They represent the lonely void, the pointlessness of existence in the face of such impenetrable hate. Mulder and Scully are each confronted by a voice of fear in the ghosts.
These two ghosts specifically represent a refusal of the call to fight for life – they gave up when the going got tough. It’s not a path that Mulder or Scully would ever choose, because they are only afraid of each other in some way. These episodes in this part of the show really help both characters work through those fears.
Scully desires more of a personal life in addition to her work. She is ready for a relationship with Mulder (almost) and vocalizes it unknowingly a lot. She mentions family, her family, presents, and in other episodes she says similar things (like in Triangle). Meanwhile, Mulder only sees the work. He doesn’t understand Scully’s need for more, until he sees for himself that it makes him whole.
In previous episode Triangle, Mulder actually went on a Wizard of Oz-like journey after which he learned this emphatically, but the dream answers haven’t caught up to his waking life yet. This growth takes Mulder the entire season, until Amor Fati, the season opener in the seventh season, when he once and for all gets it. He even rebels against it, midway through this season, coming up in Two Fathers/One Son.
Separately, it seems like Duchovny and Anderson are having a lot of fun, as are Asner and Tomlin. Mark Snow got a little tinkly. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas has never sounded more sinister. So much to love in these wonderful episodes.
Strap in, K Files listeners. We only get wackier from here – see tomorrow’s episode for proof: Terms of Endearment, guest starring The Chin, himself, Bruce Campbell. It’s a wacky one.
The story truth is out there.