Over the course of nine seasons and 2 feature films, The X-Files transcended its cult status, becoming a phenomenon and cultural touchstone. With a new series on the way, special agent Rick Shingler has accepted the assignment to rewatch the entire series from the beginning and provide detailed reports about his findings. Come with us now, as we explore the mysteries of the complete X-Files. The X-Files (1998) (w: Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz (story), Chris Carter (screenplay)/d: Rob Bowman) While many fans (myself included) refer to the X-Files franchise’s first feature film by the title “Fight the Future,” that title was in truth nothing more than the tagline on the marketing material for the release of the film. If this had been a televised episode, it’s certain that the “I Want to Believe” tagline at the end of the opening credits would have been replaced with these three words. The phrase is used twice in the movie, once by an ally and once by a non-ally. As it is a central thematic statement of the film and I happen to really dig it as a title, for the duration of this column, The X-Files (1998) will hereby be called “Fight the Future.” Nearly all members of the show’s core cast found their way into the film. Some of the newcomers were left out, but we should keep in mind that principal photography for the film happened during the hiatus between seasons four and five, so characters that had grown important over the course of the fifth season were unlikely to have found their way into the screenplay. Agent Jeffrey Spender and (to a lesser degree) his mother Cassandra, newcomers from the season finale Gibson Praise and Agent Fowley really didn’t have any place in this story, anyway. The only two glaring character omissions from the film were Marita Covarrubias and Alex Krychek. This slight is certainly understandable in the case of the former, seeing as when we last saw her she had been conscripted as a test subject for the Black Oil vaccination experimentation after her betrayal of the Syndicate. But Krychek’s absence is sort of puzzling. While his loyalties are slippery at best, he is generally working for the Syndicate again at this point in the series, and it seems a little odd that he is not even mentioned in the film. Granted, including Krychek just for the sake of including him would not serve the story, and that sort of fan-service pandering is frankly beneath the story-driven writing of Chris Carter. Of course, seeing as he’s most recently been acting as a lap dog for the Well-Manicured Man, it’s likely that had he been in the film, he would have been sitting in the driver’s seat of WMM’s car, so it could be said that he dodged the non-proverbial bullet. Not to mention the car bomb. Alas, Nicholas Lea did not get a big screen credit for this one. But, perennial pain in the ass that he is, he’ll be surfacing again on the small screen before long. In addition to the familiar faces that are seen in the film, a couple of rather notable new ones join the X-Files milieu for this installment. Blythe Danner, as FBI Assistant Director Jana Cassidy, heads the professional review panel that questions Scully and Mulder about their activities leading up to the bombing of an office building in Dallas at the start of the movie. Martin Landau, however, gets a considerably juicier role as Dr. Alvin Kurtzweil. Kurtweil is a published conspiracy theorist who attempts to put Mulder on a path toward the ever-elusive Truth that we’ve been told is out there. Actor Terry O’Quinn makes a brief yet pivotal appearance in the role of FBI Special Agent Darius Michaud. O’Quinn has appeared once before on the X-Files television series as a police lieutenant involved in an extramarital affair with one of his detectives (in the season two episode “Aubrey”) and would appear later in ninth season episode entitles “Trust No 1.” He was also a series regular on the X-Files’ sister show Millennium. Chris Carter was faced with a daunting task when it came time to complete this screenplay. He and Spotnitz had taken time during the 1996 Christmas hiatus from the show to sit on a beach in Hawaii and hash out the plot. Carter’s intention was to conclude the television series at the end of the fifth season and spin the franchise directly into feature films. A variation on this model had certainly worked for another Enterprising sci-fi show. Of course, Star Trek had been cancelled for several years before its first motion picture was developed. The X-Files was at the height of its popularity as it entered its fifth season. The Fox Network executives weren’t prepared to let their critically-acclaimed ratings darling slip away to their kinsmen at the 20th Century Fox lot quite so easily. We all know that sibling rivalry hurts everyone in the family, but there’s just no talking to Hollywood executives, you know? Carter’s complications came when the network ordered a sixth season of the show. All of a sudden, rather than constructing a screenplay that would build a bridge from the television to the big screen, Carter was expected to write a summer blockbuster that stood on its own merits while stringing threads from the fifth season finale to the sixth season opener. Further, it had to stay true to the series while enjoying the unprecedented freedoms that came with a Hollywood film budget. It needed to advance the story that’s been woven through over a hundred hours of television, but do so in a way that wouldn’t alienate casual viewers stumbling into the wrong screen at the multiplex. Speaking as a fan and devoted follower of the series, I found the movie to be accessible and everything I could have hoped it to be. Speaking objectively, it is also a clear enough story to at least intrigue the uninitiated enough to want to seek out the series. Rob Bowman, a veteran director of the series, helmed the movie and was able to maintain the rhythms and beats of the show, just in a much larger-scale way. Think of this as an early, smaller-scale version of the continuity that would be found in Marvel Studios’ slate of films and television shows. Carter, Spotnitz, and Bowman blazed that trail years ago. The movie opens 35,000 years ago in an area that would become North Texas, near Dallas. Two primitive homo-sapiens are out hunting for snacks before the Cowboys game when they find an aggressive extraterrestrial in a cave. It attacks, but soon learns that you just don’t mess with Texas. The hunter stabs and kills the creature. Unfortunately, the alien has a strange defense mechanism. As its viscous black blood spills out onto the cave floor, it changes direction and infects the primitive, turning his eyes black. In present day, some boys are out digging holes when one of them falls into a cavern. Recovering from his fall, he looks around the cave and finds a skull, presumably of the primitive from the opening scene. As cool as the skull is, he also finds the Black Oil. His friends go to get help, and two firemen descend into the hole to find little Stevie. When they don’t return, the chief considers sending a couple more, but is interrupted when FEMA turns up in biohazard suits and takes over the rescue operation. Once they have set up a containment facility, Cigarette-Smoking Man arrives for a tour. Donning a biohazard suit, one of the scientists takes him down into the cavern where they are studying one of the firemen who had been overtaken by the Black Oil. The virus has taken up residence inside of him, using all the tissue of his internal organs to gestate an alien creature. CSM is shaken and leaves. A week later, Mulder and Scully are working with a team answering a bomb threat to a Federal building in Dallas. While the search team, led by Special Agent Michaud, searches the targeted building, Scully has followed Mulder to the roof of an adjoining building. Mulder has a gut feeling that the bomb is in the office building instead of its announced target. As Scully (this time literally) talks him back down to rejoin the rest of the team, Mulder stops in the vending room to get sodas. And finds the bomb inside of the soda machine. Scully orders the evacuation of the building and contacts Michaud. As soon as the agent in charge arrives, he orders everyone to clear the building so he can defuse it. Mulder’s Mulder Sense tingles again, but Scully drags him out to a waiting squad car. Agent Michaud, left alone with the bomb, sits quietly and watches it tick down to zero and explode, taking him and most of the building with it. Upon their return to Washington, Mulder and Scully are scheduled to appear in front of a professional review board to answer for their breaks in protocol and whether their actions might have cause the deaths of Agent Michaud and four other people, including a child, on an upper floor of the building. Skinner reminds them of the fact that the X-Files project has dissolved, considering all of the files were burned to oblivion a month before. Both of their careers are on extremely thin ice. Scully assures the committee that she had given the evacuation order with plenty of time for everyone to have left the building. Before Mulder enters the chamber for his evaluation, Scully tells him that she’s thinking of quitting the FBI to go back to medicine. She’s disgusted at the manner in which they are being treated and what’s the use of having a medical career to fall back on if you never fall back on it, am I right? After a long day, Mulder attempts to pickle himself at a Georgetown bar when he is approached by Dr. Alvin Kurtzweil. Kurtzweil tells him that the four bodies found from the building had already been dead and that the entire building was bombed as a snow screen to cover their cause of death. Rolling Scully out of bed, they go to the morgue where the bodies are being held to examine them. What Scully discovers is something not altogether unlike a human-sized and –shaped version of those wax bottle-shaped candies; you know, the ones filled with that viscous colored sugar water? Except this sugar water is the color of used liquid pine cleaner. And the whole thing is covered in some sort of hairy slime. I’ll stick with peanut butter cups, thank you very much. This is enough to send Mulder and Scully back to Dallas to dig a little deeper. At the site outside of the Dallas, the scientist returns to the makeshift facility in the underground cavern only to find that the creature has bored its way out of the chest cavity of its host and is loose in the underground lab. The workers above watch as the alien attacks their colleague. They quickly seal the hatch and bury it, leaving the scientist at the mercy of the creature. The cleanup has begun. They learn that the bodies had been in a quarantined FEMA facility within the building, and that the boy was from a suburban area outside of the city. At the site of Stevie’s mishap with the shovel, the agents conduct an informal interview with some local boys and learn of tanker trucks that had left the site after they covered it up. Tracking the trucks, Mulder and Scully are baffled to find a large cornfield in the middle of the Texas desert. In the center of the field is a large dome-shaped facility. Creeping inside, they find themselves in the middle of a swarm of hundreds of thousands of bees. Once back outside, black helicopters with search lights chase them through the rows of corn, but they back off once they leave the field. They go back to Washington so that Scully can attend the next session of her evaluation the next morning. She arrives late, and the meeting does not go well. She goes to Mulder’s apartment to tell him of her final decision to leave the bureau. She says she’s been holding him back in his work with her constant skepticism and questioning. He argues that she has served more to legitimize his work than he ever would have been able to do on his own. His impassioned plea leads to what would have been an intimate moment, if not for the stupid bee which had been under the collar of her jacket since the dome the night before picking just that exact pheromone-laden moment to sting Scully on the back of the neck. She collapses in the hallway. Paramedics arrive and take her away. When Mulder tries to ask the driver which hospital they are taking her to, the driver shoots through the window of the ambulance, grazing Mulder’s temple. As he collapses onto the street, the real ambulance pulls up in front of his building. Mulder wakes up with the Lone Gunmen and Walter Skinner standing over him in a hospital room. I have to wonder if there isn’t a page or two of dialogue on the cutting room floor while the four men were waiting for Mulder to wake up. I would personally really have enjoyed seeing Skinner’s first encounter with Langley, Frohike, and Byers. Stuff of fan fiction, I suppose. Although, the fan fiction would most likely just end up degenerating into some sort of daisy chain event, which would be disappointing and lack the sort of stiff, uncomfortable dialogue that I would hope for in such a scene. It’s probably best left to my imagination. After leaving the hospital with the Gunmen’s assistance, Mulder tries to make contact with Kurtzweil, only to find the police are searching his apartment for child pornography based on an anonymous tip. While inside the apartment, Mulder discovers that Kurtzweil is the author of several far-out conspiracy-theory books. Outside, Mulder sees Kurtzweil who claims that the accusations against him are false. But Mulder doesn’t want to hear it. He’s convinced that Kurtzweil is merely using him to gather fodder for a new book. After leaving the doctor’s creepy alleyway, Mulder is confronted by the Syndicate’s Well-Manicured Man who gives him a vial with what he claims to be a vaccine for what has infected Scully through the bee sting. He also gives him some Antarctic coordinates. He has to administer the vaccine within 96 hours or it will be too late for Scully. WMM orders his driver to pull into an alley and proceeds to shoot put a bullet through the back of the man’s head. After Mulder leaves the car, a bomb explodes. The Well-Manicured Man is entirely aware of what happens to anyone who betrays the inner circle of the Syndicate. By giving Mulder the means to save Scully, he has also given him access to knowledge the rest of his group still wishes to remain secret. WMM, however, has been slowly falling out of step with his colleagues over the last couple of years. This is his last-ditch attempt to turn thing right, but he realizes the price that must be paid for such treachery. Mulder makes his way to the coordinates in Antarctica. Falling down a chute in the snow pack, he finds his way into a giant underground warehouse, stacked with thousands of people held in some sort of stasis in pods. Locating Scully, he frees her from the pod and injects her with the vaccine. As it affects her, it also travels up the tube coming from her mouth and destabilizes the other pods. The fully-gestated aliens in the other chambers begin to wake up. Mulder revives Scully and helps her escape the way he had come in as the entire structure quakes around them. The pods begin to burst open and hungry alien babies (they’re not nearly as cute as I make that sound) burst out. As they reach the surface outside, the snow begins to collapse and they are forced to run. They cannot outrun the widening crater, however and fall only to be lifted by the upper surface of a smooth extraterrestrial craft that is rising up out of the Antarctic wasteland. Sliding down the dome-shaped ship, they land in the snow. Scully passes out from the exertion of running through snow so soon after her recovery and misses the spectacle of the UFO flying away. Mulder, however, watches it rapturously. They somehow return to Washington (a feat which might be an X-File in and of itself) where they file their story with the professional review board. Of course, they don’t believe a word of it and try to sweep it all away. Scully, however, produces the dead bee recovered from the hallway in Mulder’s apartment building. She bemoans the fact that the FBI doesn’t currently have an investigative unit fit for pursue the evidence at hand. This provokes a significantly meaningful stare between Assistant Director Skinner and Assistant Director Cassidy. Cigarette-Smoking Man visits the deserts of Tunisia, where another crop of corn is being grown around a domed facility. He meets with Strughold, a ranking member of the Syndicate, and warns him that Mulder is still a threat. He shows him a telegram stating that the X-Files have been reopened at the FBI. And on that note, we’re back in business and ready to move on to season six. The thing I enjoy most about this movie is the fact that it truly is structured like a three-part episode of the television show, but has all the production quality of a Hollywood blockbuster. It’s bombastic and globe-spanning while never losing focus on the two main characters and their unwavering trust in each other. And Mulder gets to say the word “shit” a lot. Some pins are knocked down, and some other ones are reset for the coming season. CSM is correct, though. Before, Mulder’s beliefs were wavering, even though he had regained some of it. Now that he’s seen the scope of the project, he is more dangerous than ever. The last thing the Syndicate can afford is to be exposed. Eventually, something will have to be done with Mulder. But for now, he and Scully have to start refilling those burned out filing cabinets with new X-Files. See larger image X-files Fight+believ Bd Df-sac [Blu-ray] Includes: X-Files the Future and X-Files I want to Believe. New From: $14.99 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Jane Smith Fight The Future is such an underrated movie. I have always felt it is an essential episode between season 5 and 6 (yeah, yeah, I know, it was filmed during the previous season break http://www.deepfocusfilmstudies.com/the-x-files.html ) but I can’t image going through a re-watch without it.