210.7 The K Files | Unnatural Mulder | The X Files 201 Days Rewatch
Sixth season episode The Unnatural marks the intermingling of an important thread in the X Files tapestry: it’s the first of a handful of episodes written and directed by Mulder, himself, Mr. David Duchovny. DD wrote and contributed a few episodes prior to The Unnatural, but was finally confident in his storytelling abilities to take the plunge and direct. It’s an episode much beloved by fans due to its distinct tone, the strangeness of the story, and most of all, the scenes at the beginning and end, featuring heavy Scully flirtation.
Not unlike a Chris Carter Fairytale (see previous K Files on Post Modern Prometheus or How the Ghosts Stole Christmas), this David Duchovny fable explores character emotions via the subject matter and advances the story in less overt, yet for me, more satisfying ways. The sixth season is characterized by overall, a highly sophisticated character study of Mulder and Scully, and how they change as their relationship grows and they careen towards each other at terminal velocity.
In these episodes, the characters will usually start the story by revealing in some fashion a problem or fear or anxiety. In The Unnatural, Scully tells Mulder something very important that he blows off in favor of investigating an X File older than his grandparents. She tries to tell him – come have fun with me. This episode gives us a jubilant Scully, a laughing, golden Scully who’s alive and happy in front of Mulder- and he disregards her. For what he thinks is important, but what the episode tells us is less important than doing what makes you happy.
The story illustrates this for Mulder in a way that is different. For Mulder this season, many of the lessons he’s learned in the episodes have disappeared as when a dreamer forgets a dream. In this episode, we know Mulder gets it because he wastes no time in doing precisely what makes him happy – playing baseball while spooning Scully. Which is really what Scully was trying to get him to do in the first place. It’s something he’s been unable to completely surrender to, until now. So what made it finally sink in?
I would argue it’s because this episode wasn’t a dream but an actual fable, a story told to Mulder by another character that encapsulated the message using language that held meaning for him (aka baseball). It’s a subtle way to show one of the most carefully guarded secret truths of The X Files: stories have the power to change perspective, to change belief, and that is the power to change people. The ersatz Arthur Dales changes Mulder with his story. Then, Mulder shares the wisdom with Scully. It’s pretty perfect, story-wise.
We are coming up on a big Mulder moment at the end of this season on the rewatch. The Sixth Extinction and Amor Fati are the final test for him on the path to deepening his relationship with Scully. Stay tuned to The K Files as we investigate the highly rich myth story of this strange and wonderful show.
Props to Agent Lopez on the outpouring of original art for the show – she’s only warming up. Check out more from Kryzzalia.