Sep. 2nd, 2002

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I've been watching a lot of X-Files recently. What I like about it now is how different it looks after two years of not watching and two years of disgust with Chris Carter and the way the whole enterprise was run into the ground.

Early X-Files, those first few seasons that I watched on its original Friday nights, are dark and scary, even now. But now, instead of looking tragic or impassioned or brilliant, Mulder only seems silly. What stands out is Scully's extreme sensibleness,

Later X-Files, those later seasons I half-watched or didn't watch at all, are frankly absurd. "Jump the Shark", with its unbelievably bad plot and stupidly out of character death of the Lone Gunmen, is one of the worst-written episodes, if not the worst-written episode, I've ever seen. But again, what stands out is Scully.

Skinner calling Scully "Dana" at the Lone Gunmen's funeral shocked me. I saw the episode about the same time I read a story, and I can't remember which one, in which Scully talks about changing herself, losing her baby fat and dressing differently, so she's sleek and sharp instead of round and dowdy. I will remember those horror movie episodes until the end of my days, those terrifying stories like "Eve" and "Darkness Falls". But it is the Scully alone episodes that I think I like best. The times when she breaks free of the hold Mulder has on her and explores X-File territory on her own: "Chinga" with Scully's inability to escape the X-Files completely and Mulder's inability to amuse himself without her; "Never Again" with her escape into sex and recklessness; "all things" with its brittle opening and tender ending framing Scully's two-day settling of her own past.

What makes "all things" and "Never Again" such attractive episodes is the brittleness of their relationship as the episode opens. It is one of the things I like best in a TV show--the sharp sniping of people who are too close. Mulder and Scully in "all things" and "Never Again"; Daria and Jane as Jane's attention splits to include Tom, and Daria and Jane again as Tom leaves Jane for Daria; Dan and Casey and a simple hug on Passover that somehow fixes everything.

With this resurgence of interest in, if not outright love of, The X-Files, I've been rereading fic--JiM and MJ's "I Still Have Plans To Go To Mexico" today--and I find myself strangely unmoved. I like the stories, some of them, but they seem only marginally more connected to the actual show than the film version of The Bourne Identity is to the book. The characters are there, but everything else has been stripped away until all that's left is the relationship. But that's not all that the characters are made of. If you strip away the realities of their everyday lives, you strip away what makes them who they are.

I've lost my faith in slash, in its value as a way to examine the characters and their relationships, in the point of writing it, and nearly in the point of reading it.

I want more. I want characters I can recognize and who are fully rounded people. I want plots that support rather than ignore the reality of those characters. I want fic that starts with the characters, the reality of the universe, and moves into an exploration of those characters, that universe without such an obvious and single-minded agenda. I want fic that starts with what's there and expands out from that, not something that starts from an extrapolation of what might be that's based on one glance in one episode six years ago and which then moves on from there in some way based only on the logic of the author's desire to get the characters in bed together. I want gen fic and het that's closely tied to the reality of the universe and its characters. I want femslash that neither reads like a straight man's porn fantasy nor like some fourteen-year-old girl's idea of what romance ought to be.

I want my faith back.

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Ruth Sadelle Alderson

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