For devout X-Files fans, which just about everyone would claim to be, it’s a dynamic we consider all year round, and a self-identification we all secretly knew the answer to a long time ago: Am I a Spooky Mulder, or a Skeptical Scully?
With Halloween upon us, skulls fill the windows of local shops and invitations to séances emerge, even those who didn’t have an “I Want to Believe” poster in their dorm or locker may be asking themselves: Am I a skeptical science nerd, too good for all this occult nonsense? Or am I a curious explorer of all things spooky, wanting to believe in what can’t be seen? And furthermore… What the hell is my partner?
The most obvious pairing, documented in 10 glorious seasons ripe with sexual tension, is the “Sculder” of Dana Scully and Fox Mulder. In alternate universes outside the FBI basement, such as the one we live in, sometimes Scullys end up with Scullys and vice versa. Your “X-Files” identity also has nothing to do with gender; this is all about your reaction to mutant serial killers that can squeeze through drain pipes.
“I always felt like the Scully/Mulder dichotomy turned gender binaries on their head, i.e. making the woman the rational one, and the male the irrational, ‘goes with intuition’ type character,” says Ivy, an “X-Files” fan and self-identified Mulder. Let’s identify the three possible dynamics, hear quotes from humanoids who’ve survived each, and offer some advice to make each pairing work.
Mulder on Mulder
When two Mulders get together it’s sort of like when two Scorpios date: The relationship will be intense, obsessive, and you’re likely to bang off the bat — forget taking eight whole seasons for a real kiss (if you can ever get each other out of the basement office), you’ll be swapping spit before you can say “mystery of the horny beast.” Two Mulders are likely to have multiple babies that may or may not be part alien within their first few years together, both run the risk of getting abducted all over the place, and it’s easy to forget protection when you’re both on shrooms, hopping between hoedowns, kink play and Biblical singalongs (who says you can’t have fun while you solve a case?).
While in a Mulder/Mulder dynamic you’ll never have to worry about getting shut down for discussing shapeshifters at funerals, or pondering the ethics of cannibalizing someone while stranded on a rock, when a Mulder comes together with another Mulder, the double dose of instability can be a bit chaotic — somebody has to do the paperwork to save your bacon when the bosses start to question whatever demonic fetal harvest you’ve blundered into.
“One time I dated a girl who was also a Mulder, and I felt like it forced me, a native Mulder, into a Scully-like position, and I could not deal!” says Ivy. Her advice is that while these relationships can provide many adventures and awesome sex, they often work better as friendships.
Scully on Scully
When two Scullys get together, there’s a good chance they’ll end up married, having already put a lot of rational, intelligent analysis into deciding their fellow skeptic is the right one for them. They’re also going to be treated with respect, because as Scully once so eloquently put it, gun in hand:
Scullys don’t take crap from anybody — but their shared skepticism could keep things from getting interesting, always questioning the scientific nature of a whammy.
“My husband Peter is a Scully, too — one of the things that works well for us is our compatible levels of skepticism,” says full-fledged Scully Deana: “Especially since we met in yoga class, we bond over the fact that we don’t buy into a lot of the pseudoscience that gets tossed around in that environment — and also in my work, because I write about science and health,” she explains.
While a Scully/Scully match has the stability to last a lifetime, to prevent these relationships from getting stale — sometimes we all just want a few camping trips tracking a Jersey Devil — Deana reminds us that beneath the power suit, Scully has a raw and sensual side: Never forget the Season 4 standout “Never Again,” in which Dana Scully gets a snake tattoo and has sex (the only time we see her do so!).
When two Scullys give themselves over to those impulses and say “Sure, fine, whatever,” they can create the kind of chemistry that might result in, say, letting our stars actually be together during the reboot?
Mulder on Scully
While love can take many forms, it was the tender and tense Mulder/Scully dynamic (and the monster episodes) that made the series a cult favorite. When a Mulder and a Scully get together, the relationship will likely take some time to come to fruition, while Mulder lives in denial of his love (“I do NOT gaze at Scully!”) and Scully takes her time deciding if she’s ready to put up with a lifetime of spookiness (“You’ve got to be kidding me”) — but when Scully is all “No one can physically change into an animal” and Mulder’s like, “Well, that’s only because you haven’t seen me in bed…” know deep down in her skeptic’s heart, she’s ready for some freaky lovin’.
“I’m a Scully and my girlfriend is a Mulder,” says Jack. “We were friends for a long time before we got together, and still fight, but we balance each other out and as a result work incredibly well as partners.” His advice: Equally practicing patience for one another’s differences.
The Scullys of the world remember to be supportive when their Mulders start claiming it’s raining frogs, but you smug Mulders out there need to retain your chill when Scully realizes it actually is realizing frogs. In the Mulder/Scully dynamic, while times will be tough and you’ll certainly want to kill one another (although even under hypnosis you could never actually pull the trigger) should you develop the patience to handle each other’s difference, you’ll find your one in five billion.
This Halloween, when even those skeptical of body modification get a stick-&-poke tattoo at a friend’s costume party, and the spookiest get snobby about how technically you can go ghost hunting all year round, celebrate “The X-Files” by cutting loose with one another despite our differences. After all, while we want to identify — just like we want to believe — most of us contain a fair amount of both.
“I’m a switch,” says Annabel, explaining her X-Files relationship dynamic changes depending on who she’s with: “I have been in a Mulder/Smoking Man romance — often! I’m out there looking for the truth, while some douchebag in hiding is sending me mixed signals, and I can’t tell if he’s the enemy or not.”
Now that sounds… Truly terrifying. Do not ever date the Smoking Man. (You can, of course, date Skinner — we know you were already thinking it anyway.)
Happy Halloween “X-Files” fans, and remember on this most magical of nights: Wish hard enough, and we just might be in store for a Season 11.