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OfficialXFiles.com: 'The X-Files': Your Complete Cheat Sheet

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

'The X-Files': Your Complete Cheat Sheet





Warning: This article contains mild spoilers for Season 10 of The X-Files. 

The season premiere begins with a quick primer on the show’s dense mythology, narrated by star David Duchovny. But other than that, there’s not a lot of hand-holding as the characters leap back into their ongoing search for the truth.

The good news is, by the end of the hour, the status quo has changed enough that new viewers will be able to (mostly) follow along. Better yet, the next few episodes are standalone installments that don’t hinge on any established mythology.

If you’re still feeling intimidated about leaping into these unfamiliar, alien-infested waters, here’s our A-Z cheat sheet to understanding the bare-bones basics of The X-Files. You’ll find its as easy as A-B-C…actually, make that X-Y-Z.

Aliens
The overarching “myth arc” of The X-Files has always hinged on extraterrestrial visitors who are nothing like E.T. The series takes it as fact that aliens have visited Earth and that the American government has gone to great lengths to keep this “truth” from the general public. This conspiracy has taken on many forms over the years, involving, among other things, virus-laden black oil, alien-enhanced super soldiers and, finally, a date for a full-scale invasion. But that invasion is indefinitely postponed by a revelation in the season premiere that changes the nature of this conspiracy yet again. (Check out our spoileriffic recap for more details.)

Dana Scully
Trained as a scientist before joining the FBI, Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) prizes logic above wild speculation in all her investigations. (Although it’s worth nothing that she hasn’t allowed her Catholic faith to lapse.) But her scientific skills are regularly put to the test after she joins the X-Files division, where every case comes equipped with a fantastical, and possibly paranormal, answer. 

Fox Mulder
A childhood tragedy turned Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) into a dogged investigator of all things strange and supernatural. That made him the perfect person (or, if you’re part of the alien conspiracy, the totally wrong person) to head up the X-Files, which became both a professional and personal crusade. His relentless obsession is part of his smoldering charm.   

The Lone Gunmen
The Justice League of conspiracy theorists, this three-man team — consisting of John Fitzgerald Byers (Bruce Harwood), Melvin Frohike (Tom Braidwood) and Richard Langly (Dean Haglund) — were often helpful resources for Mulder (less so Scully) in his investigations. The trio supposedly perished in Season 9 (following their quickly-cancelled spin-off series), but it’s since been confirmed that they’ll be back this year to puncture more conspiracies.

“I Want to Believe”
That phrase is emblazoned on poster of a UFO hanging in Mulder’s office, and handily encapsulates to the divide between the two agents: he’s the believer and Scully is the skeptic. (It’s also the title of a 2008 X-Files feature film that most people like to pretend never happened.) 

Monster of the Week
X-Files episodes are generally divided into two categories: “myth arc” or “monster of the week.” The former dovetail into the ongoing alien-affiliated mystery, while the latter are standalone procedural-driven outings where Mulder and Scully solve a specific X-File and try to catch an adversary who may be otherworldly or just plain deadly. Many of the best-loved X-Files episodes during the show’s original run were “monster of the week” outings, and early buzz suggests that this new batch of “MOTW” tales recapture that fun.   





Mulder/Scully
Moonlighting’s David and Maddie had nothing on Mulder and Scully. At the peak of X-Files fandom, die-hard viewers hung on every sentence and stray glance the two exchanged to find any hint of a torrid romance. The ‘shipping got so intense, that the nascent Internet practically melted down when the duo came thisclose to kissing in the 1998 X-Files feature. Eventually, Carter stopped playing around and revealed that the duo were romantically involved, although that relationship is in the past when Season 10 begins.   

Samantha Mulder
Mulder’s younger sister, who vanished from his family’s home in 1973 under mysterious circumstances that he’s always characterized as an alien abduction. For decades, he sought to find the answer for her disappearance, at last finding the truth (we think) in the Season 7 episode, “Closure.” This being The X-Files, though, some cases are never truly solved. 

The Smoking Man
Call him the Smoking Man, Cigarette Smoking Man or Cancer Man. They’re all the same dude: a black-suited, constantly-smoking government operative (William B. Davis) who serves as Mulder’s reliable nemesis in his quest to learn the truth. Although he supposedly perished in the Season 9 finale, the Season 10 premiere reveals he’s very much alive…although a little bit worse for wear. 

The Syndicate
The clandestine group of men who knew about alien visitation — and their impending invasion — and kept it on the down low, thwarting Mulder’s efforts to blow the lid on their activities. The Smoking Man is one of the Syndicate’s key members, and his presence in Season 10 means that the group itself may also still be hanging around.
The X-Files
The inexplicable cases that the FBI can’t (or don’t want to) crack generally wind up getting filed in this junk drawer. It’s not the division you want to end up in if you’ve got your sights set on running the Agency someday. But if you’re hopelessly addicted to all things bizarre and weird, this is your fiefdom.

“The Truth Is Out There”
Mulder’s favorite expression, and the tagline that still appears in all caps at the tail end of the show’s opening credits.

Walter Skinner
Mulder and Scully’s no-nonsense superior (Mitch Pileggi), who became a valued friend — and, thus, fan favorite — over the course of the series. He’s the one who brings them back into the fold at the beginning of Season 10

William
Despite being told that she was infertile, Scully gave birth to supernaturally-enhanced William, named after her father. At first, the child’s paternity was in question, but Mulder was inevitably revealed to be the father. Scully eventually placed William with an adopted family, but both she and Mulder acknowledge him as their son in the Season 10 premiere.   

The X-Files premieres Jan. 24 at 10 p.m. on Fox






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