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“Home Again” and Looking at the Big and Little Questions on The X-Files

9 Feb

Mulder’s quest began a long time ago with a simple question that lacked in a simple answer – who took his sister and why? That night is what led to his interest (okay obsession) with all things paranormal, ultimately leading to his partnership with Scully. In this 6-episode revival The X-Files isn’t so concerned with what happened to Samantha Mulder (‘explanations’ in the past range from cloning, a shadowy government conspiracy, aliens and a serial killer giving Mulder answers and then taking them away), but rather addressing the child that Scully and Mulder had and then gave up for adoption in order to protect him. William is the thread that runs throughout and a sadness hangs over Scully (and Mulder) in the same way Samantha did during the original series.

With William it isn’t so much what happened to him – even though Scully has plenty of those questions – as they know the reason why he is no longer in their life, but more about the decision they made and if there could have been another way. A lot of this is saturated in guilt; Mulder felt guilty for being the one not taken way back when and now Scully is consumed with this feeling that she abandoned her child.The X-Files 10.04 Mulder and ScullyThere is no way to reconcile this guilt other than by bringing William back into the fold in some way or other and it definitely seems like they are building to some kind of resolution. Or as much of a resolution as The X-Files can offer because they’re going to leave some questions (okay probably a lot) unanswered in case they want to do more (which if the ratings are any indication, Fox will definitely want more). When it comes to this storyline YMMV depending on how invested you are in this side of Mulder and Scully’s relationship and for the record I am very much in. I wear my shipper status and feelings with pride.

The intimacy levels are not just about the romantic and the bond between Mulder and Scully goes beyond William and any potential romantic involvement. The way “Home Again” (written by Glen Morgan) mirrors the season 2 return of Scully in “One Breath” (co-written by Glen Morgan) is achieved on several levels. From overt references with a flashback clip of Mulder talking to Scully, the talisman (Scully’s cross necklace/her mother’s mysterious quarter chain) and the desire to will someone back to life. Mulder needed to know what had happened to Scully after Duane Barry abducted her and Scully’s questions in the present shifts the focus onto a few personal mysteries rather than a larger conspiracy. Gillian Anderson nails the heightened emotions with this devastating line “I don’t care about the big questions right now, Mulder. I just want a chance to ask my mother a few of the little ones.”

In a touching conversation at Margaret Scully’s bedside, Scully wonders if they ever encountered anyone with the ability to wish another person back to life. Mulder of course did such a thing when Scully was in her coma – “I invented it” – and the “you’re a dark wizard” response is a much needed moment of levity before Scully’s mother wakes up, mentions William and then dies. Giving Scully even more reason to question her decision and think about the son she gave up. Mulder’s close relationship with Scully’s mother began in “One Breath” and Mulder and Scully’s lives have been so entwined on every level that I am so glad he was here for Scully in this moment (initially I was concerned he would be stuck in Philadelphia working on the case for the whole episode). Scully perfectly fits under Mulder’s chin in a visual which yep, caused more feelings.The X Files 10.04 Mulder and ScullyThe big and little questions of The X-Files come in a variety of forms and one of the prevailing strengths of this show is its ability to weave between themes that impact the overall worldview of these characters (generally the mythology infused episodes) and ones that focus on something smaller (monster of the week episodes). These ‘monsters’ come in many different forms and can be funny (like last week’s episode “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster), scary (“Home”), other worldly (“Squeeze) or very much rooted in reality (“Irresistible”).

What “Home Again” does is combine a MOTW with the overall mythology and at times this episode does suffer from doing too much and would maybe have benefited from an extended run time. That’s not to say it isn’t a good episode and for me it is on a par with last week’s super fun standalone outing; while the monster backstory is pretty forgettable everything that radiates from Scully is engrossing. It also does a good job of  reinforcing the strength of the Mulder and Scully relationship no matter how long they have been apart and what they have both sacrificed; the core of The X-Files is always them.

Costuming wise this is also reflected once again in their mirrored style/color choices from matching black coats in the emotional final scene to the blue of Scully’s shirt and the polka dots (!) on Mulder’s tie.The X-Files 10.04 Scully and MulderThe phrase “back in the day” gets used a couple of times; first at Margaret Scully’s bedside with regards to wishing someone back to life and later on when Mulder points out he’s not running up stairs to which Scully replies “Mulder, back in the day I used to do stairs and three inch heels.” Take that Jurassic World pump doubters. Mulder always one with a quippy comeback remarks “Scully, back in the day is now.”

What this does is deliver a playful moment in an episode that is steeped in heavy emotion showing that The X-Files is still a master at weaving between super serious or scary with lighthearted interactions. This pair has been through so much trauma on every level, but thankfully they still have each other and a sense of humor. This is required when going into dark buildings which may or may not house a dude who can pull arms off a human like wings off a fly.

Oh yes they also have flashlights and this prop will never not make me giddy. The X-Files 10.04 flashlightsThe flashlight moment which was teased in the trailer happened in “Home Again” and yep it was wonderful.

[Source]

The episode ends with Scully doubling down on her partnership with Mulder and his work while also pointing out that there are so many mysteries with regards to William that she’ll “never have answered.” Mulder gives no verbal confirmation that they didn’t “treat him like trash” but the gesture of pulling her into him is an act of comfort and one intended to give Scully reassurance. I also have a feeling we might get some William answers or at least vague hints by the time this mini-series is over. Nothing concrete of course.

Watch the promo for next week’s episode “Babylon” below and just know that Lauren Ambrose being back on TV is another reason to celebrate.

Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny Discuss Old Tensions and More on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

13 Jan

The X-Files will be back on screens very soon (Sunday, January 24) and last night the premiere took place at the California Science Center in LA. We’re very much in a 90s nostalgia period with both the pop culture and fashion of the time and like many this was not only a show I was obsessed with, but it was my first experience of actively shipping a couple on screen (and maybe a little off screen too).

Regardless of whether these six episodes are good (and I really want them to be, but don’t necessarily expect it after the last movie and tangled web of the mythology arc) it has tapped into some long dormant feelings and it is a lot of fun seeing how playful Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny are with each other.

Gillian Anderson and David DuchovnyCase in point their appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! where they discuss getting back into character, bad monsters and rumors of an unhappy relationship.

This is far from the case now and when Gillian Anderson tries to explain why they maybe didn’t get on it descends into the best kind of chaos and PDA.

The new(ish) rumors are that they are/have been dating and while this is very much not confirmed they certainly still have cracking chemistry and in a comedy sketch complete with wigs and oh so many 90s references – does anyone else find the sound of dial-up strangely comforting? – Mulder and Scully go way further than we have ever seen them go before on the TV series.

And for more fun X-Files related things check out the new episode of The X Files Files and a conversation Kumail Nanjiani recorded at 3 a.m. with Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny discussing old plots and monsters of the week. Anderson’s lack of memories of these moments is hilarious.

The X-Files returns Sunday, January 24 followed by another episode Monday, January 25 and for a 21-minute preview head here.

Getting Older and Fighting the Same Fight: Previewing The X-Files Revival

29 Dec

In just under a month The X-Files will be back on our screens and Fox has released a 21-minute preview to wet those appetites; it is safe to say I was pretty giddy within the first few minutes and there is nothing quite like hearing those opening bars of the Mark Snow theme to give you goose bumps.

The X-Files Scully and MulderThe preview includes interviews with the cast (new and old) and creators outlining what The X-Files is – not sure they’re going to get too many people watching who don’t know – and setting up the revival. There will be two mythology episodes bookending the six episodes and a whole lot of monsters in-between. The Rhys Darby/Kumail Nanjiani episode looks particularly funny and it is the one I am most looking forward to.

Chris Carter retcons a little with the Mulder and Scully relationship suggesting it was purely platonic and it was only in the most recent movie where there was any romance (okay), but things are certainly just as intimate as they were before even if the pair haven’t  seen each other recently. It doesn’t look like it will take any time at all for them to get back into their routine and yep so many feelings from this preview alone. I’ve mentioned it many times before how much Scully and Mulder mean to me and like many others this is the first TV couple I actively shipped. Hence the lack of chill about this revival.

They also bring up the fact that they are both a lot older and it has been over twenty years since they first stated their partnership and the child Scully gave up for adoption is now 15 years old (way to make me feel old by pointing this out guys). By the way Gillian Anderson getting all teary is crushing out of context so expect major misty eyes while watching this scene in context.

There is a very cute moment about age and heels because Mulder does not do stairs anymore; Scully gives him the best response to this complaint. Speaking of cute moments, we’ve also got this blooper and those giddy feelings I mentioned are all pointing to this. It’s all about the shoulder squeeze.

The X-FilesSee – no chill whatsoever.

The preview reveals quite a lot of story points and some behind the scenes stuff so if you want to go in completely fresh then it might be best to avoid, however I think they are holding a whole lot back.

The X-Files returns Sunday, January 24 2016.

New X-Files Trailer: Monsters, Flashlights and Sunglasses 

27 Oct

The X-Files revival is still a few months away and so far the promotional material has mainly focused on showing the alien conspiracy angle and letting us know that Mulder and Scully are estranged. It’s not all mythology episodes and the monster of the week are also making a comeback; much to my delight. I don’t think I am alone in the opinion of preferring these types of episodes over the alien storyline, particularly when the latter became convoluted and messy.  The monsters are coming with Scully explicitly saying so in this new trailer in a tone that seems less sceptical than you might expect, but things are not always as they seem on The X-Files. Other moments to get excited about include the lack of baggy suits (although I kinda miss them), the return of Mulder’s sunglasses and some playful flashlight interactions. Yes that is a smile on Scully’s face. The feelings are still being felt. There’s also a whole lot of creepiness, some folks who are less than thrilled to see Mulder and Scully and Mulder waking up shirtless in an unnerving environment. Sounds like The X-Files I know and love.

Watch the new trailer below and head here for the first full length one.

The Wish List: The Mindy Project and Three J NYC

9 Jan

On this week’s Trophy Wife Malin Akerman’s character Kate has a mini meltdown about being too comfortable and how she loves pajama pants. It’s ok as TV Ate My Wardrobe spends quite a lot of time in pajamas, taking the Jessica Day approach to bed wear and over on The Mindy Project they showcased what might be my new favorite pajama company Three J NYC. This means it’s time for the first wish list of 2014.

Mindy 3 j nyc pajamasInstantly won over by the polka dot factor and this is a big shock I know. It’s probably a tad too cold to be opting for shorts and ditching long sleeves, so we’ll be saving this style of pjs until the spring. Mindy favors clothes from the ‘super cute’ category and this is no exception, I also think there is something sexy about this kind of bed attire even when it isn’t being modeled in a Victoria’s Secrets buttons open way (really who does that?).

A whole host of styles and patterns are available on the Three J NYC site (as well as some limited stock at Neiman Marcus) including the Eloise White Dot Mindy is wearing in “Danny C is my Personal Trainer.” Spending just over $100 is a big investment for something the outside world is unlikely to see and it’s the perfect excuse to spend more time in pajamas. They’ve also got some good options on sale including this set adorned with bicycles and I am super tempted.

While I’m on the subject of The Mindy Project I just wanted to mention how much I have enjoyed the last few episodes as my relationship with this show has been patchy. It’s a shame then that it will be taking a break after the January 28 episode as it has definitely found its rhythm. At the start of the season, I was firmly on the fence with the Mindy/Danny romance story and now I’ve jumped fully into the shipper zone after the Aaliyah dancing and workout montage. If I wasn’t already there then Danny’s speech telling Mindy “You’re a woman and that’s good. Look like a woman” would have been the deciding factor.

After the Elle cover chat it was kismet that this episode discussed body confidence and it’s a topic most shows wouldn’t cover in this manner. Plus Danny joins ranks with Gwyneth Paltrow and Cameron Diaz with his thoughts on pubes “Just grow it out. No one wants a 9-year-old.” I already read my first major think piece on this trend in UK Elle yesterday, who knew this would be such a hot topic for 2014?!

The costuming this season has been on top form and so expect a lot more Mindy wish lists before the show goes on hiatus.

Festive Rewind: The West Wing “In Excelsis Deo”

24 Dec

It’s TV Ate My Wardrobe’s first festive season and to mark this occasion we are hosting a very special rewind series. What this means is that we will be featuring a whole host of guest posts and in the spirit of the holidays we have asked a variety of writers to discuss a festive episode of their choice. These will be appear on the site over the next couple of weeks and there’s an eclectic mix including teen dramas, science fiction, animation, comedy, drama and more to get you in the celebratory mood. Or to at least give you plenty of suggestions of TV to watch over the break.

I’m going to be chatting about The West Wing’s first Christmas episode “In Excelsis Deo” in relation to catching up with a show long after it has finished. The Christmas narrative reveals a whole lot more about these characters to the audience and for me personally, it shaped my feelings towards one particular pairing.

The West Wing Donna2013 is the year I finally sat down and watched all of The West Wing, prior to this the only Sorkin show I had seen more than a handful of episodes of was The Newsroom (I know). Marathoning a show this long after it has been on air and one that has a large fanbase means there are plenty of people who are willing to chat with you about this watching endeavor. While this isn’t the same as seeing something as it airs for the first time, it does still lend itself to the notion of a shared experience even if most of these chats occur with people who have already seen the episodes you are watching for the first time. “In Excelsis Deo” was mentioned by several different people as being a favorite West Wing episodes and it’s one that shows off a variety of strengths from character to story.

As you have probably gathered from this Festive Rewind series I like holiday themed episodes because they give shows a chance to do something different even if they are often variations of A Christmas Carol or It’s a Wonderful Life. Leo points out “In Excelsis Deo” that the country doesn’t shut down just because it’s Christmas Eve and while there are no visits from ghosts or angels these characters are faced with life changing events both big and small.

TobyFor Toby we get to see a softer, compassionate side as he becomes involved with the very real issue of homeless vets. CJ deals with another heartbreaking situation with the death of a teenage boy and the reason why he was murdered stirs up emotions. We see just how far Josh and Sam will go for Leo (something Leo does for Josh in the season 2 Christmas episode “Noël”), even if they go about it in the wrong way. Mrs Landingham reveals a heartbreaking piece of her past and why Christmas has the potential to make people feel sorrow as well as joy. The final sequences which cuts between the funeral and the carol singing at the White House brings the tears; “Little Drummer Boy” is the perfect rousing and misty eye inducing festive song.

West Wing groupIt’s not all despair and this brings me to the Donna and Josh of it all. Here’s the other thing about marathoning a show; you don’t have to wait seven years to see the couple you want to hookup finally make the move and get together. “In Excelsis Deo” is the episode in which the Donna/Josh stuff clicks for me; from Donna imploring Josh to do something for Leo and telling him “It was my regular face Josh, I wasn’t trying to guilt you” to the back and forth banter about what Josh is going to get Donna for Christmas. The scene that had me jumping on board this good ship is when Josh eventually gives Donna her gift – Heimlich Beckengruber on The Art and Artistry of Alpine Skiing.

It’s not the book but what’s written on the inside that counts (something that remains between Josh and Donna alone) and it’s the combination of the hug, Josh’s “I meant it” and the sneaky look back and smile that shows the intimacy between this pair long before they sleep together.

Julie Hammerle

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