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The X-Files

The X-Files

By Patrick Samuel • December 26th, 2013
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
THE X-FILES, HOW THE GHOSTS STOLE CHRISTMAS (EPISODE)
20th Century Fox

Original air date: December 13th, 1998
Running time: 45 minutes

Writer and director: Chris Carter

Cast: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Ed Asner, Lily Tomlin

The X-Files, How The Ghosts Stole Christmas

Every Christmas Eve there’s a collection of Christmas episodes I like to watch as I sit near the tree basking in its seasonal glow. Among them is this episode from Season 6 of The X-Files which is just perfect for this time of year with its mix of horror, comedy, dark festive spirit and a hint of romance.

In case you’re not familiar with The X-Files, it’s a television series that ran from 1993 to 2002 and was developed by Chris Carter. In the show, FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) is teamed up with Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), who’s also a Special Agent but with a medical background. Together they investigate unexplained phenomena and unsolved cases their Bureau have given the name X-Files.

While Mulder hopes to uncover the truth about his long-lost sister’s disappearance in what he believes is an ongoing UFO conspiracy deep within the government, Scully is more of a sceptic and rationalist. On this night however, Christmas Eve 1998, they’re about to investigate something seasonally spooky. Scully arrives to meet Mulder who’s parked outside an old mansion listening to Bring Crosby singing Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas on the radio. He greets her cheerily, glad that she turned up and she replies with her usual candour.

SCULLY: Sorry. Checkout lines were worse than rush hour on the 95. If I heard “Silent Night” one more time I was going to start taking hostages. What are we doing here?

MULDER: Stakeout.

SCULLY: On Christmas Eve?

MULDER: It’s an important date.

SCULLY: No kidding.

The X-Files, How The Ghosts Stole Christmas

Scully’s not keen to spend Christmas Eve on a stakeout and as Mulder peers into her car he sees it’s filled with shopping. Scully’s got a lot of wrapping to do. Mulder tells her the story of the former occupants of the house they’re staking out, starting on Christmas Eve 1917.

MULDER: Driven by a tragic fear of separation they forged a lovers’ pact so that they might spend eternity together and not spend one precious Christmas apart.

SCULLY: They killed themselves?

MULDER: And their ghosts haunt this house every Christmas Eve.

(SCULLY laughs.)

Wouldn’t you too? I do every time I watch it. Nevertheless, the hapless duo enter the spooky old mansion and of course it doesn’t take long before Scully is spooked by the door that slams shut behind them and the creaking floorboards in the room above. Who’s laughing now? Scully does her best to rationalise her fear.

SCULLY: These are tricks that the mind plays. They are ingrained clichés from a thousand different horror films. When we hear a sound, we get a chill. We-we see a shadow and we allow ourselves to imagine something that an otherwise rational person would discount out of hand. The whole… Mulder…? (follows him up to the second floor) The whole idea of a benevolent entity fits perfectly with what I’m saying. That a spirit would materialize or return for no other purpose than to show itself is silly and ridiculous. I mean, what it really shows is how silly and ridiculous we have become in believing such things. I mean, that… That we can ignore all natural laws about the corporeal body- (MULDER tries a locked door) that-that we witness these spirits clad in-in their own shabby outfits with the same old haircuts and hairstyles never aging, never… Never in search of more comfortable surroundings– it actually ends up saying more about the living than it does about the dead.

MULDER: (trying another locked door) Mm-hmm.

SCULLY: I mean, Mulder, it doesn’t take an advanced degree in psychology to understand the… the unconscious yearnings that these imaginings satisfy. You know, the-the longing for immortality the hope that there is something beyond this mortal coil- (MULDER tries another locked door) that-that we might never be long without our loved ones. I mean, these are powerful, powerful desires. I mean, they’re the very essence of what make us human. The very essence of Christmas, actually.

The X-Files, How The Ghosts Stole Christmas

Although Scully’s long stretches of dialogue don’t actually make her feel any better or safer, what it does do is show us, the viewer, how she tries to cope with fear. Even though she’s faced things such as abduction and witnessed murders, possession and even Leonard Bett’s severed head winking at her, here in this haunted house, she cowers like a scared little school girl to which Mulder pays almost no attention to. Yet we know they both really can’t do without each other, not even on Christmas Eve when they could be at home with their own families. They’re two lost souls.

The banter throughout the episode is so rich and fires so rapidly even after they get separated and each encounter the previous occupants, Maurice and Lyda. Jan Delasara describes in PopLit, PopCult, and the X-files: Critical Exploration:

“In the course of the episode, The X-Files’ post-modern irony develops as the ghosts enter the story. The pair of revenants are not young, but middle-aged, and they attempt to spook the agents into suicide or murder by ghastly visions and visitations, entrapment and a barrage of insulting diagnostic terminology borrowed from pop culture.”

In many episodes of The X-Files Mulder and Scully run in circles and sometimes into walls – figuratively speaking, but in How The Ghosts Stole Christmas we’re watching them do it literally and for laughs. It’s a wonderful break from the conspiracies, covert meetings and constant cover-ups they usually encounter but what makes it so extra special is that we get some really great humour in there as well like when Lydia holds open her robe exposing the bullet wound.

MULDER: (shocked) Oh…!

LYDA: I don’t show my hole to just anyone.

MULDER: (rather disgusted) Why are you showing it to me?!

Season 6 is by far one of the most watched seasons of The X-Files at our house. Episodes such as Trinagle, Dreamland (Parts I and II), The Rain King, Monday, Arcadia and Three of a Kind all depart from the larger conspiricy surrounding an alien invasion and in doing so they gives us some rarely seen insights in these fascinating characters. As they gleefully unwrap their presents at the end, this episode is something that really makes my own Christmases feel that little bit more complete. X

The X-Files, How The Ghosts Stole Christmas

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick’s work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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