In Which We Are Introduced to Our Heroes
(Not To Mention Some Villains); and 
In Which Our Heroes Learn Not Everything Is As It May Seem

Every time I watch this episode, I bemoan again the fact that I did not start watching this show from the beginning. I saw the ads on Fox, like everyone else, and dismissed it as another silly and/or confusing sci-fi thing that wouldn't hold my interest. 

At least I was right about the confusing part.

Say what you will about Chris Carter -- he certainly knows how to start things with a bang. Right from the start, we get it all, starting with the Cigarette-Smoking Man hanging around in the background as an incredibly young Dana Scully is sent to work in the basement with "Spooky" Mulder. 

Oh, and Dana knows all about the infamous Mulder. It's obvious (to me, anyway) that her comments during that initial meeting are carefully edited to fit into professional expectations. She's supposed to go where she's assigned and do her job, and it just wouldn't do to show apprehension about what she's heard about him. Which is that he's a lunatic, of course. Brilliant, yes, but a complete nut.

She wouldn't dare say so directly to her superiors, but she thinks the assignment is a joke. Why do they need someone to come in and debunk his work? He's crazy as a loon; everyone knows that. Why not just fire him?

Still, she's curious to see this legend in person. Size him up for herself. Maybe bring him down a notch or two from his vaunted egotism.

Never mind that he looks like every girl's fantasy college professor. No one can convince me they didn't both think "whoa!" when they got their first looks at each other. (grin)

Worse, he knows about her, and knows why she's there. He presents his case anyway, and she's fascinated despite herself. Perhaps there's more to this than she thought.

She forgets all about her interest, though, the second he brings up aliens. Oh God, it's true; he really is insane, and she has to go out in the field with him? She considers bolting, for just a second; you can read the "fight or flight" in her eyes. But she's held in place by the condescension in his voice. He thinks she's a joke, does he? Well, she doesn't have to stand for that.

Something flares in his eyes when she talks back. Mostly surprise, she thinks, but maybe, just maybe, there's a little admiration buried in there, too. He likes it, she decides. She stood up to him, and he enjoyed it.

So. In two scenes, we've got the entire setup. Aliens, conspiracies, and powerful men, and a partnership based on intellectual compatibility, rather than agreement. Any argument is stronger when it's challenged, and by the end of Mulder and Scully's first meeting, it's clear there will be no blind debunking or dismissal done here. On either side.

The case itself is fairly straightforward for an X-file, despite Scully's amazed and stunned reactions. In fact, she does a bang-up job of focusing on the evidence at hand and keeping Mulder on track. She faces mysterious disappearances and deaths, typical Mulder theories, lost time, destroyed evidence, and a conclusion that leaves as many questions as answers. By the next episode, Scully is much more acclimated to the strange nature of the things they'll be investigating. The first time is always the hardest.

The obligatory skin scene is there to appeal to the lowest common denominator of sci-fi fans (the stereotypical geek-in-love-with-Lara-Croft), but even that is given a depth of meaning we've since come to expect from the show. The new partners open up miniscule cracks in their defenses, Mulder going so far as to explain the reasons for his detour into the X-files, something he quite obviously does not readily relay. The first tiny threads of trust are being woven between them. (And his story also fills in an answer for Scully; his connections in Congress protect him from simply being fired.)

Scully, to her amazement, even finds herself believing Mulder's crazy ideas for a moment. She sees the sense, the logic behind it, understands his thought processes, even if she can't support his conclusions with the evidence she needs. He's not insane, she realizes; he's only making connections others can't see. His work may be unorthodox, but she decides it's valid.

All in all, it was a match made in Nielsens heaven. (grin)


-- Someone at 1013 should have done at least a little research into the hiring requirements and hierarchy at the FBI. We can handle some artistic license, but more realism would have been nice.

-- A character bible would have been even nicer. Might have prevented things like Mulder's magically changing story of Samantha's abduction through the years (and particularly between this episode and "Conduit," just a short time later). Not to mention their traveling birthdays, Samantha's flip-flopping middle name, and so on.

-- Scully looked fine in the pilot; young, but fine. (In fact, they're both adorable.) So why did they have to turn her into an old maid before "Deep Throat"? She didn't look older, just like a refugee from the fashion police.

-- Yes, Chris Carter made the right decision in not showing any aliens or giving many explanations early in the show. It's the non-disclosure that's kept the series running so strong for so long.

-- And finally, nothing against Ethan, but I'm glad he got cut. Had the show been designed to show more of the characters' private lives, it might have been okay, but then it would have been a completely different show. Relationship non-disclosure has worked just as well as plot non-disclosure; in fact, it's the primary reason that XF fanfic is so popular. We love filling in the emotional blanks.



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