210.55 | The K Files | Arcadia Fire | The X Files 201 Days Rewatch
The sixth season brings many new kinds of monsters, but more than in any other season, these monsters tend to be more allegorical rather than products of science. The monsters this season all seem to spring from Mulder and Scully and mostly revolve around anxieties each of htem has about their relationship and how it’s shifting. It’s great to rewatch with this in mind – from one episode to the next their dynamic shifts and changes. In the Dreamlands, Mulder and Scully were both lovesick and couldn’t bear to be parted. And now, in Arcadia, we can see some growing pains as both adjust to their new selves in light of advancing togetherness.
Chris Carter and co don’t ever give a lot of outward evidence regarding the developments in what’s affectionately known in fandom as “MSR,” or Mulder Scully Relationship. You have to pick up the status from inference and read between the story lines to perceive what is actually happening. This and the next season are the most rich for interpretation, and we’re in the thick of it now.
So what’s actually happening? Mulder and Scully are assigned a case that is arguably a bit contrived (since when do prospective home buyers get to move their personal belongings in, change the name on the mailbox, and put in a “reflecting pool?”), but none of that matters because the story underneath, and on the surface, actually, is funny and entertaining. Mulder and Scully get to play house and see what that feels like while still safely buoyed to a case, tethered to work.
It seems to be more of a Mulder episode. If I were calling this a Chris Carter Fairytale, I would say it was a Mulder dream. Mulder starts out glib, fuzzy-haired and cute in his polo, taking the case for granted as just a blowoff from the Bureau. He has a lot of fun making jokes about honeymoon videos and infringing on her personal space, and is keen to flirt, but Scully mostly shuts it down. Mulder even compares Scully to this OCD community, associating her with the people that live there.
It’s an offhand line but it reveals Mulder’s current misunderstanding of their relationship on both the surface and an emotional level. On the surface, Scully is just asking for consideration in their shared space, when these other people were willing to sell their souls for property values. Emotionally, it’s very similar: Scully is asking for her own space and for basic consideration in their shared life together. Mulder needs to make room for her and not just in bed.
The word Arcadia is Greek and means harmonious, unspoiled. The garbage monster that lives in the heart of this planned community is the high, hidden price of one person’s idea of that perfection. When Mulder associates Scully with the community he unknowingly loops Scully into that type of person – the person that wants to change him. For Mulder to dismiss Scully this way shows he isn’t ready for their relationship yet, after all, no matter how much fun it is to play house.
Speaking of fearing change: In contrast to Mulder, who appears to like the intimacy of the experience, Scully seems to be pulling in the opposite direction in general in this episode. So emotional in Dreamland and Triangle, Scully is playing it very cool here. She doesn’t want to pretend or joke about playing house with Mulder anymore – she’s frustrated with him and a bit with herself, because no matter how much she protests, in reality, her actions show she’s still helpless to follow Mulder wherever he goes (it’s a long list, but most recently see Agua Mala and How the Ghosts Stole Xmas).
The only way out is in! M and S still have work to do on themselves before they can be with each other as equals. Each episode brings us closer to the big three parter at the end of season six/beginning of season seven when Mulder chooses Scully once and for all.
Art credit for the top image goes to our own Agent Kryzzalia Lopez, whose depiction of M and S as paper dolls playing house is very cool.
Fix your flashlight beams on Fox as we continue to barrel through through these episodes en route to January and the miniseries. Check out this handy 201 Days Rewatch Calendar to help plan your rewatch accordingly and stay tuned to The K Files in our continuing mission to explore the dark corners of the show via character study and story analysis.