The X-Files "Plus One." Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully and David Duchovny as Fox Mulder. Photo: FOX

The X-Files 11×03 Review: A Shipper’s Struggle

I imagine when Chris Carter sat down to write The X-Files “Plus One,” he had a split personality situation that was similar to the one in his script. His evil self — the one he inhabits regularly — started to type, but then his good self showed up. There was a struggle (he loves that word) that, in my mind, went something like this:

Good Chris: Let’s do a classic, spooky X-File. Enough with our whacked-out mythology.
Evil Chris: Okay, but women are going to be called horrible names a lot.
Good Chris: We are doing a sex scene. I won’t let you stop me!
Evil Chris: I want to make Scully feel old and sad.
Good Chris: Two sex scenes!
Evil Chris: Their pillow talk is going to be depressing and platonic.
Good Chris: I’m going to use the word “afterglow” somehow.

It probably explains why I have mixed feelings about this episode. Join me while I try to sort “Plus One” out.


Creator or not, Chris Carter should not be the one tasked with giving fans the first MSR sex scene in 25 years. He is so committed to his skewed (and incorrect) idea of platonic partners that he botched the whole thing. It’s not surprising. Here’s what Carter told Cinema Blend about MSR in “Plus One:”

Most importantly, their bond is really about ultimately a deeper kind of platonic love and mutual respect…I wouldn’t call them romantic now. In Episode 3 there was a moment, a night, possibly a second night. Does that make them romantic or does that make them human? I think it just makes them human.

Carter is so vehemently against the idea of Mulder and Scully being a couple that he ruins their first sex scene with nonsense like this and bullshit pillow talk that has some of the most atrocious dialogue I’ve ever heard these characters say to each other. We go from “Can you hold me?” (thank you, Good Chris) to Scully asking Mulder if he would have kids with somebody else. Mulder has the audacity to come back and question why she hasn’t tried to have more kids. Um, I can think of a reason: His name is William. He was a miracle, and Scully went through the trauma of giving him up — a decision that still haunts her. She told him about her anxiety over it as recently as 10×04 “Home Again.”

But, Carter has her reason be because she has no one to have kids with as she is cuddling with the love of her life her platonic work partner. Are you fucking kidding me? How many times do you have to get hit in the head with your surfboard to think Mulder’s constant, his touchstone, his one in five billion, his [insert your favorite true love MSR quote here] believes that he doesn’t want to be with her, that she is not his absolute everything?

The dialogue itself is abhorrent, but what makes it even worse is that it immediately precedes the sex! Wow, what sexy foreplay chit chat. It’s great that Scully initiates it, but to have her worrying over her age and her inability to bear children right before doing so is insulting. And frankly, it seems like he is sacrificing his character — this wonderful, feminist icon — to showcase his misogynistic values.

The exchange Mulder and Scully have earlier that night has a little bit of this, but it wasn’t terrible, and their flirtatiousness made up for it. The whole discussion about feeling old could’ve ended there, but Carter made us sit through more before giving us what we have waited a quarter of a century for. It’s like taking a shit on someone’s present before giving it to them. While I feel grateful for this precious gift, I’m still peeved about the shit. So thank you, Chris Carter, for being a stubborn man-child who can’t just have two characters who literally go to the ends of the Earth for each other have happy, loving sex.

Deadly Hangman

The X-File itself is actually pretty cool. Carter shows he can still tell a creepy story. Evil twins and a psychic game of hangman is the perfect case for Scully and Mulder to investigate. Karin Konaval slays as Judy/Judy. She looked great as Chucky/Chucky, but the performance was a little over the top. It could’ve been due to Carter’s clunky dialogue in those scenes, though.

It all felt like classic X-Files. There are quirky characters, unexplained phenomena, Mulder and Scully arguing the sides of believer and skeptic. The score is nostalgic, fun, and very fitting for the different moods throughout the episode. The final scenes leading up to the conclusion are suspenseful and shot well.

If “Plus One” left out Carter’s dumb dialogue, the ageism crap, the view that women are only baby-makers, and Mulder and Scully still acting like they are broken up, this would be one of my favorite episodes.

Selective Memory, engage!

Reading between the cringe-worthy lines that comprise that conversation in the bed, I can at least get a sense that Mulder and Scully will always be together, and that they mean it in a deep, romantic, mutual respect kind of way; and not, in any way shape or form, platonically.

You Must Remember “This”

The way Mulder and Scully behave with one another in “Plus One” differs wildly from the way they did in “This.” The fact that they have sex is super in character, but all their shyness and nonsense talk surrounding it didn’t. To me, these aren’t the same characters from “This.” Not really. Sure, there is some flirting that works, but it still feels a bit off. It felt very genuine and real with Glen Morgan’s words. (You can read how much I liked that here.) It’s as if Carter didn’t even read Morgan’s script or watch any edit of “This.” I don’t know how anyone can go from “our home” to “what happens if you meet someone.” “This” might not have had the sex, but MSR was way more in character than “Plus One” and much more enjoyable for this shipper.

Stray Observations:

  • I am totally into the punk version of David Duchovny’s “Unsaid Undone.”
  • “A woman thinks about these things.” Carter does not know a thing about what women think. Women in the writers’ room could’ve helped this. They (eventually) did hire some women, but I heard that the writers all worked independently. That sounds like a bad idea to me. If Carter would’ve shown this script to a woman writer, I highly doubt we would have the problem bits that arose in “Plus One.”
  • There’s only one room! Fan fic realized again this season!
  • The theme to The Patty Duke Show and a clip from The Parent Trap play, which are nice touches.
  • “You still got some scoot in your boot.” “I’ll boot you outta here.”
  • Scully didn’t give Mulder any of the magic bread pills. LULZ.
  • “Can you hold me?” This might be my favorite line from “Plus One.”
  • “Come back to bed” and “Put a dimmer on that afterglow, Scully” are close contenders, though.
  • There’s a theory floating around that Scully gets pregnant from their sexual activities, and I do NOT want to hear it! (Even though the theory is pretty sound.) There is no way in hell that Carter could take that storyline AGAIN and not fuck it up.
  • I love that Scully initiates the sex both times. Get it, girl!

The X-Files airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on FOX.

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this is a random mix of whatever. some book, tv, and movie reviews. reviewing all episodes of the x-files, slowly but surely. thanks for visiting!

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