In this week's Top Ten we look back to the childhoods of Mulder, Scully, and some of our other favorite characters on The X-Files. From alien abductions to Nebraskan milking sheds, dead bunnies in the basement to "Hotel California" under the Christmas tree, our protagonists had eventful formulative years to say the least! Read after the jump to find out our favorite moments.
10. "Christmas Carol"
First up on this week’s list is one of the many childhood flashbacks seen during “Christmas Carol”. In it we discover that 1) Scully was absolutely adorable as a very small child, 2) her older brother Bill was something of a bully, 3) at some point Dana owned or found a small rabbit, and 4) at the time when she had this rabbit, she had not learned that locking it inside a lunch box for a very long time would not be good for its general well-being. Of course, we could also be seeing a look at Scully’s interest in the dead - maybe she found the rabbit already dead and brought it home. Whatever the case, the fifth and final thing we learn is that maggots are absolutely revolting no matter the situation. Eww.
"I'm going to find that rabbit and cook it. I'm going to turn it into stew."
7/8/9. "Like Water For Octane"
This week we’re cheating by combining three entries into one, because honestly - how can you separate the Lone Gunmen? These flashbacks don’t actually occur during an X-Files episode either, instead they form the opening of the episode “Like Water for Octane” from The Lone Gunmen spin off show where we get to see all three Gunmen as young boys and catch a glimpse into their very different childhoods. First up is Byers whom we see at school in Virginia in 1974. Unlike his classmates who all want to become “rich and famous” when they grow up, young Byers announces that he wants to become a “career bureaucrat with the Federal Government” so he can “help as many people as [he] can” and spread democracy.
In 1982, we see a young Langly hiding in the back of his father’s milking shed in Saltville Nebraska. Reprimanded for using his computer instead of milking the cows like he should have been, the young Langly launches into a speech about how the computer, which his father refers to as a “damn-fool toy” will change the world in every way, and how he will use it to become a millionaire. Finally, we see a young Frohike at his high school back in 1967 . Frohike attacks a jock, who turns out to be the captain of the football team, demanding he accept that “the Cutlass 442 is faster than the Belvedere GTX”. (FYI, the Cutlass could do a standing quarter mile in 14.1 seconds while the Belvedere could only manage it in 15.2 seconds - so Frohike was right!) After being called a shrimp by the older boy, young Frohike brushes the insult off with ease, and gives a short speech about how he plans to “make the world a better place” through his publishing; much like Hugh Hefner!
B: "I want to help as many people as I can and work hard to spread democracy throughout the world."
L: "This damn-fool toy is gonna change everything. From the way people do business to the way we communicate. This damn-fool toy is the future."
F: "I'm gonna do big things and then I'm gonna write about them. People will hang on my every word. Yeah. I'll be a crusading publisher and make the world a better place."
“Demons” is an interesting episode in terms of this list, because we aren’t sure whether what we’re seeing is a real memory or simply a hallucination brought about by the unorthodox treatment Mulder had undergone. Throughout the episode we see frequent flashes of Mulder’s childhood in the run up to Samantha’s abduction, including one glimpse of a sullen young Fox lurking in the shadows while his sister spies on the adults downstairs. Although we are often unsure of how “real” what we are seeing is whenever we see flashes of the young Samantha, “Demons” is outright about the dubious nature of these visions - it is the premise of the entire episode. Yet whether or not the details are accurate, we know from later revelations, especially those presented during "One Son", that what Mulder experiences in his visions is very close to the truth.
"I'm afraid, Fox. I'm afraid."
5. "One Breath"
“One Breath” gave us our first look at a young Dana Scully, our first look at her older brother Bill, and the only glimpse we have ever had of her younger brother Charlie. The flashback, which is presented as a memory told by Mrs Scully, told us a lot about Scully as a child. We learned that she was afraid of snakes and that she was a tomboy (unlike her sister Melissa who also receives her first mention in this scene), who enjoyed playing in the woods. We also got to see that Scully is a natural redhead, a trait that Charlie definitely inherited too.
"For her birthday, Dana’s brothers had given her a B.B. gun and were showing her how to use it."
4. "Christmas Carol"
Next up is another of the “Christmas Carol” flashbacks, this time featuring a much older Dana played by Gillian Anderson's little sister Zoe. Picking up one of her presents from beneath the tree, she whispers to Melissa her hope that it contains “Hotel California”. That album was released at the end of 1976 making Dana 12, almost 13 which certainly matches her apparent age on screen. This episode also features a continuity error that annoys many fans by showing Dana (and Melissa) receiving their cross necklaces from their mother. This is a direct contradiction with what Mrs Scully tells Mulder in “Ascension” about giving Dana the necklace “on her fifteenth birthday”.
"Your grandmother gave me a cross just like that when I was about your age."
3. "Dreamland Part Two"
Although only a short sequence, the sini film that runs at the beginning of “Dreamland Part Two” is important for one very simple reason. It shows a happy family. From the beginning, Mulder’s family has been shown to be sad, divided, and somewhat lost. This is a family that has torn itself apart through the years, and it stands in direct contrast to Scully’s family who, despite having suffered losses of their own, are shown to be united in the face of whatever comes their way. The "Dreamland" footage shows the Mulder family - conspicuously missing Bill who is probably behind the camera - smiling and laughing. Samantha is wearing her adorable fairy outfit complete with wings and a wand, Fox shows off his Spock costume with pointy ears, and a phaser, and their mother laughs and hugs them both. This is the Mulder family we never see and often forget, the one that existed prior to 1973, and it is only by acknowledging its existence that we can begin to comprehend the true tragedy of what happened to Fox Mulder. He didn’t only lose his sister to the conspiracy, he lost his family, his childhood, and arguable, his happiness.
"He started out life happily enough, as these things go. He had parents who loved him, a cute kid sister. He had a roof over his head, got all his flu shots, had all his fingers and toes."
2. "Piper Maru"
Although she apparently enjoyed a much happier childhood than her partner, Scully’s adult years have been filled with tragedy just as often. This is probably why she looks back on her younger years with a strong sense of nostalgia, one that is occasionally heightened by the familiarity she comes across in Naval settings, such as the house her brother occupies in “Christmas Carol” which is identical to one she grew up in. This is also the case in “Piper Maru” when she visits Miramar Naval Air Station where she spent part of her childhood. Seeing children outside playing the same games she once did brings back a flood of memories that while happy in themselves, stir up floods of memories for Scully. The flashback of Dana and Melissa playing hopscotch together is beautifully shot and beautifully scored, and it shows us why Scully is still searching for the answers she resolved to find earlier that season in “Paper Clip”.
"Let me give you directions."
"I know my way, thanks."
1. "Little Green Men"
I have to admit being deeply torn over which of the top two items on this list should get the number one slot. In the end it had to be this scene from "Little Green Men", if only because this is the first time we witness the memory that caused Mulder to become then man he is. Although we would go on to see dozens of varying memories related to the night of Samantha’s abduction, “Little Green Men” gave us the first, and possibly clearest one of all. Lasting nearly two whole minutes, the flashback shows us young Fox and Samantha playing their game of Stratego while coverage of Watergate runs in the background, and their argument over changing the channel because Mulder wants to watch The Magician soon. We also see the the abduction itself in full, including Fox’s attempt to get his father’s gun down from a high shelf and the appearance of an alien creature in the doorway. Mulder would later come to doubt these memories, and we would too, but as the facts have slowly been revealed over the years, nothing has come to light that would prevent this sequence of events from the night of November 27th 1973 from being the truth.
"Mom and Dad said I could watch the movie, buttmunch."