What Does Mulder & Scully's Split Mean For Reboot?

by Caitlin Flynn
THE X-FILES:  L-R:  Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny in the "Nothing Lasts Forever" episode of TH...
FOX/FOX Image Collection/Getty Images

By now, most fans have heard the tragic news, courtesy of E!, that when The X-Files returns to the small screen in January, Mulder and Scully will have broken up. When this item came through my newsfeed, it ruined a perfectly good Saturday. I went through some of the typical stages of grief, beginning with denial. Once I had thoroughly scoured the Internet and seen confirmation from multiple sources, I became angry, then depressed... OK, you get the picture. But I have finally, begrudgingly, reached the acceptance stage.

I've been 'shipping this couple since I was 12, so while I'm still not happy they're on the outs, I am embracing my inner optimist and looking at the bright side — because, frankly, I am just not strong enough to live in a phase of anger and grief until we finally see how this relationship plays out in January. Firstly, we have a lot to look forward to: iconic characters including Skinner, the Lone Gunmen, and the Cigarette Smoking Man are confirmed cast members and, although there are only six episodes, the arc will follow the show's original formula by combining standalone stories with overarching conspiracy theories.

Still, that wasn't enough to cheer me up, so here are four ways we can look at the Mulder and Scully breakup that will hopefully soften the blow:

1. They Need Time To Heal Individually

Entertainment Weekly has quoted David Duchovny as saying that, when the revival begins, Mulder is "in a dark, dark place". It won't be the first time he's struggled emotionally and, although Scully maintains a more put-together exterior, she has suffered tremendously throughout the series. After an alien abduction, a battle with cancer, and the death of her sister, the most devastating blow to Scully came when she was forced to give up their son, William, in order to protect him. In the 2008 movie I Want to Believe, Mulder said: "I think our son left us both with an emptiness that can't be filled." Although they felt the same loss, they were clearly coping differently — Scully focused on her medical career while Mulder hid out not doing much of anything until a potential X-File came along.

I'm not going to say The X-Files is the most realistic show, but it is true that when both members of a couple are in an emotionally dark place, they are in no position to help one another. After all they've been through, both individually and together, I think both Mulder and Scully could use some time apart to work through their own grief.

2. Mystery Has Always Been The Central Focus

Sure, many fans were rooting for Mulder and Scully to end up together, and it always seemed inevitable that a romance would develop. But that's not what drew us into The X-Files and kept us watching. Even as we were given hints about their developing relationship, those moments weren't in every episode and they were brief, because the clear focus was Mulder and Scully's work as FBI agents. And if anyone watched seven seasons of sci-fi cases solely because they were waiting to see these two finally lock lips, then that's 'shipper devotion that even I can't compete with. So a lot of the elements of The X-Files we know and love will probably remain the same in this reboot.

Once Mulder and Scully were finally established as a couple on the show's initial run, we barely saw them work a case together — and I think that was a good thing, because it didn't go so well in I Want to Believe. Their bickering was endearing and respectful throughout the series, but in the movie it became downright hostile and was peppered with not-so-cute lines such as "don't expect me to come home." If we really want a revival series that feels true to the original, I think the Mulder and Scully romance may need to temporarily be put on the back burner.

3. Let's Not Forget How Cute They Were As Friends

When we first learned of the revival, I don't think any of us expected six episodes of Mulder and Scully gazing into each other's eyes and declaring their everlasting love (although I certainly wouldn't have minded a scene or two). Many of Mulder and Scully's most memorable moments occurred while they were still in the friend zone. Sure, it was always on the flirtatious side and it was leading up to a romance, but at least we know that the dynamic duo has stayed friends despite their breakup.

It's probably going to be a little different now that they're in the uncomfortable phase of being post-romance, but they have such a strong foundation and history together that I can't imagine they'll be anything but loyal to each other when it all comes down to it. And I think, as friends, they can be a support system for each other while they confront their own demons. Doing that while living under the same roof would just have been too difficult for any couple — even this near-perfect one.

4. The Truth Is Out There — Mulder & Scully Are Endgame

Their romance may be on hold when the revival kicks off, but I would be shocked to see it end without a reconciliation. Every time an episode or movie has been filmed with the idea that it could potentially be the last we ever see of Mulder and Scully, it's been clear that they're a couple (albeit an unconventional one). The series finale ended with them laying in bed together while they cautiously speculated that "maybe there's hope." And, despite the conflict between the pair in the underwhelming I Want to Believe film, it concluded with Mulder promising to take Scully away anywhere she wanted — although they both somberly acknowledged that the darkness always has a way of finding them.

Mulder and Scully are beloved as a couple, but fans also adore these characters individually. There will be outrage if each one doesn't get the happy, peaceful ending they deserve — and it's hard to picture either Mulder or Scully happy without their other half. As Mulder once told Scully: "You're my one in five billion."

I'm no mathematician, but those odds combined with their undeniable love and chemistry make me fairly confident that, by the end of the reboot, we'll see Mulder and Scully back together as a couple. They just need to each find their own peace first — and, you know, uncover some crazy conspiracies without a relationship getting in the way.

So for now, shippers, don't cry!

It can be a harsh world when you're an agent on The X-Files, but surely it's not so harsh that these two soulmates will be kept apart forever.

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