Times Mulder and Scully Should Have Made Out This Week: “Babylon”


Times Mulder and Scully should have made out in “Babylon”:

  • Yikes!
  • Does this episode think it’s edgy to suggest that a Muslim man in America might eat a PB&J sandwich? This intro otherizes by trying to familiarize (one problem with “they’re just like us” is that it presumes who gets to be “us” — in this case, white people — and who has to be “they”), then literally blows up viewers’ sympathy as if to blame us for it. I’m already furious.
  • Hold on, let’s get the one wholly good scene out of the way.
  • “Ear witnesses” is cute.
  • Mulder only believes, or wants to believe, what he thinks can be proven. But Scully’s faith is about filling in the gaps where science can’t, which is why she doesn’t bat an eye at saying a story in the Bible didn’t literally happen. That’s the sort of thinking Mulder can’t wrap his head around: Why believe in someone who lived to be 930 years old if you know he really didn’t? Same reason this season toys with Scully’s DNA, I guess: There’s more than one way to be immortal, and she knows it.

Dana Scully remembers everything Fox Mulder has ever said so jot that down


She knows it was hot

  • Mulder remembers everything Scully has ever written so jot that down too.

[voice from 23 years ago] I *liked* it

  • Mulder and Scully and Einstein and Miller is a double-date time-travel stage play I would see on opening night.
  • It’s so much funnier that these doppelganger parallels aren’t subtle. Einstein practically kicks down the door shouting “I’m a medical doctor.”
  • Imagine impressing Scully this much.

I’d cry

  • “Can we get to the business section please” is a great way to dismiss someone who won’t stop talking.

This is the mood kids

  • The real secret to this scene’s success is simple, adorable, and also the reason why they don’t have friends: Mulder and Scully are obsessed with themselves. “He seems like a bright young man.” “She calls him Miller.”

wow get a room with who you are as people

  • “She’s clearly in love with him.” First of all, true. But this isn’t playground gossip! This is the Federal Bureau of Investigation! And they’re adults! With a child!
  • Once again Einstein’s the mood.

  • I can’t tell what points the pundits on the news are making, but if the old white man isn’t the most irrational one then this isn’t the X-Files I know.
  • No, Einstein, Mulder can’t just tell you over the phone. He has a PROCESS. He does a SLIDE SHOW.
  • Mulder before building a tower of furniture: “First can we talk about the nature of reality as you perceive it?”
  • He is at home being critiqued.

He moisturizes in your disdain

  • I present “mugwump” and “woo woo” as evidence that this script was written in a parallel dimension and came through wrong.
  • If Einstein is meant to be anything close to a reflection of Scully in the early days, even an exaggerated one, she’s not. Scully was never harsh or condescending. But Einstein’s kind of great if you just look at her as someone who is absolutely furious that she has to talk to people.
  • One thing I know for sure is that Einstein did debate club in college and she was the star.
  • Look how much Scully loves going through the looking glass to glimpse young Mulder.

  • She really means “I believe that you believe” as an expression of full support. Her relationship with Mulder has never been about needing to believe the same thing; it’s about trusting in one another’s sincerity.
  • There are like 10 seconds when Mark Snow does a Good Thing while Einstein is bitterly calling Mulder because her future self stole her partner, and I’m angry because if you give Witch Meryl Streep a cow and she lets you cross to the parallel universe where this script originated, it’s a fun concept.
  • “How do you say ‘howdy partner’ in Arabic?” YOU JUST SAY HELLO IN ARABIC.
  • Is “Not all Muslims are extremists, certainly” seriously the most this episode could do?? Not ALL Muslims??? HOW GENEROUS.
  • When you would usually eviscerate this sad white man but the script won’t let you:

  • We aren’t being mean enough to this white lady nurse who hates that Her Tax Dollars are going to Those Immigrants, either.
  • I know I’m not the victim of this episode, but Carrie Underwood’s Sunday Night Football song is a personal attack against me now. Faith Hill never would have played me like this.
  • Hell is empty and all the devils are line dancing.
  • You know what, no. I’ve never watched this hallucination dead on and I do not like it. Come back in three minutes for Dominatrix Einstein. I’m reclaiming my time.


  • Can we rescue Lauren Ambrose? Can we rescue ourselves?
  • “You were 50 shades of bad” is harassment, please call HR.
  • I’m the only woman in this scenario who’s not a medical doctor but I don’t think that’s how placebos work. That’s not how any of this works.
  • Oh look, Miller was with the bureau in Iraq, because white Americans who go to Iraq are always lovely peacemakers and Iraqi people who come to America are always building bombs and depleting the local peanut butter supply.
  • Let me just…try to understand. The point of the vision (other than giving Mulder the name of the hotel, which the FBI could have found 15 other ways) was for Mulder to know that the victim’s mom is the victim’s mom? Even though she comes to the hospital on her own and speaks English and can introduce herself? Let her talk!
  • “Mulder where did you find her?” “Please don’t ask him that.” OUTSIDE [clap emoji] THE [clap emoji] HOSPITAL [clap emoji].
  • White shirt looks good though.
  • We’ve arrived at this episode’s big play at being less Islamophobic: Shiraz has a mom, and he didn’t go through with the bombing. So we’re “not all Muslims”-ing with a dash of sexism.
  • Shiraz goes into cardiac arrest and Scully just…stands there…

When you’re a medical doctor and you’d usually try to save someone’s life but the script won’t let you

  • God yes, this is exactly why I tune in to this show about not trusting authority: so it can glory in playing cutesy folk music over footage of armed soldiers invading a space where a bunch of Muslim men are in prayer.
  • There’s 9/11 footage playing at the AIRPORT BAR. Writing this post is like when The Onion gives up and just starts writing actual news.
  • I know it’s privileged to assume pop culture can be an escape — if you never see yourself on screen or behind the camera, it’s not — but it’s inexcusable that so many Muslim Americans sat down for an episode of a ’90s alien show only to be reminded of a day that’s still being used as an excuse to target them because of their faith. (I’m white, so please don’t center my perspective: In Sept. 2016, NBC News reported that anti-Muslim hate crimes were about five times more frequent than they were before 9/11. The Huffington Post also spoke to a number of Muslim Americans about how their lives changed that day. The stories in each piece are examples of how dangerous the ideas in this episode can be.) To see a show I love use a still-fresh tragedy to recklessly perpetuate a false association between Islam and violence makes me ashamed. I am sorry.

Now Miller’s the mood

  • I don’t need my Einstein with feelings. I only want Miller and Einstein as over-the-top comic relief, and only when Mulder and Scully are in the room, thanks.
  • “Something is clear to me now.” “The value of an open mind?” “The nature of reality.” Dialogue.
  • When the alien show plays The Lumineers

  • I don’t need Lumineer Lead Singer to tell me Mulder and Scully belong with each other. I need Mulder and Scully to use their words to tell each other. You can’t just fake resolution with song (did 30 Rock teach us nothing?). This is why The X-Files rarely uses outside music—it’s a cheap distraction, and no two people hear it exactly the same way. I’ve got “Ho Hey” associations (the season 8 premiere of Bones; feeling aimless after leaving Alaska) that I had to scrub in order to think of Mulder and Scully when I hit it in my playlist (fine, it’s on there). It’s like Beckett’s take on language: Every time we use a word, we assume the other person defines it as we do. The best shared language is silence—that’s how we respect the uniqueness of another person’s experiences. Mulder and Scully know that. And the score usually backs them up by starting on the ground floor with Mark Snow, whose language we all associate with the same things. This episode wants to be about communication, but it presumes too much about what we have in common without bothering to understand our differences. The X-Files was better at speaking to us when it just did what it always does.
  • This mirror is for shaving shirtless while Scully watches, and nothing else.

What am I meant to take from these whip-adjacent marks? Nothing I’m taking, that’s for sure. Also this is the closest I’m coming to showing those marks. Reclaiming my time.

  • It’s cozy in the winter, but I love the Unremarkable House in the summer. I spent 13 summers in the mountains. I feel like I know this place. There’s something about summer in this landscape that feels wide open, like you can make changes that will stick.
  • This is exactly the life I want for myself but mostly for the fictional characters I project myself onto.


a dream I’ve had

  • Shout out to Scully’s white pants. This is like if her “Demons” outfit graduated college and got a mortgage.
  • I love the whole look of this scene. I don’t think it can be saved by watching on mute because I Will Never Forget What Was Said Here Today, but while I’m here I might as well mention that this vibe is good and warm and it’s nice to see them in the sun.
  • “Talk to me Mulder.” She’s ready for him again.
  • His exaggerated “WHERE TO BEGIN” is precious. He’s seeing himself like Scully sees him: too vast to sum up.
  • OKAY WHY AM I CRYING I’m supposed to be a hard bitch at this episode!!!!

She loves her dark wizard

  • The X-Files endures because even when there are fake cats being lobbed at Gillian Anderson’s head, Scully looks at Mulder like That, but The X-Files is also incredibly confusing for the same reason. Can I not just reject this episode in peace?
  • Scully saying she saw unqualified hate when Mulder saw love is a cursed exchange and it gives me a chill.
  • Can we get to the business section PLEASE (the business section is making out)
  • “Walk with me Scully.”

I love this clingy scientist

  • Do they look like two people who are talking about an angry God and suicide bombers?

  • The X-Files is a social experiment to see what people will put up with.
  • Look at how close they are.

  • Look at their hands.


  • Now look at her face.

  • Now consider that they’re talking about “mother love.”
  • Is that what’s going to save us?! The love of mothers?! It is so telling that this scene is outraged at the idea of sons as martyrs even as it happily paints women as exactly that.
  • “Maybe it ends where it began: by finding a common language again”…in bed.
  • They could’ve “opened their hearts and truly listened” in bed or on the desk or in IKEA or right here but just without the part where they talk about prophets. For a story that’s theoretically about getting past the Tower of Babel, this conversation is awfully obscure. An actual relationship status update shouldn’t have to be an X-File.
  • I miss the parallel universe where this episode is good and I’ve never even been there.
  • At least Mulder and Scully are having fun.

I’ll say this for this scene: David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson did what they could.

  • That zoom out at the end literally makes me want to pick a fight with planet Earth.
  • And that’s that! Mulder and Scully are the only two people on Earth and we’re all in their computer simulation and it just glitched Very Badly but it’ll all be okay because of something to do with a horn.
  • In conclusion, the Lone Gunmen deserved better.

You mad? I am Einstein-level angry at this episode and I’m leaving with receipts. If you feel like reading, here are a couple of responses to “Babylon” from Muslim fans (one on tumblr, one in the International Business Times via a conversation with Chris Carter). And if you’re looking to fight this episode with money this holiday season, might I suggest donating to CAIR?

Next week, we reclaim our time from Tad’s O’Malley’s chemtrail conspiracy theories. Hoo boy.


  1. Why, why, why, Chris Carter? This is one of those times where somebody higher up should’ve said no and meant it. How could anybody involved think this episode was a good idea? For me, its only saving graces were the bit in the basement in the beginning and the pair reconnecting at the end. Oh, and Scully’s fabulous outfit for her trip to the Unremarkable House.

    I fear we’re in for more what was he thinking? With My Struggle III, but I’ll reserve judgment till Jan. 3.

    Trying to keep it positive, if memory serves, we have the return of the gray T-shirt in My Struggle II. Yeah!

  2. “The X Files is a social experiment to see what people will put up with.”

    I almost spit out my coffee! Too funny! If I never see anything related to this episode again I will be a happier person. Thanks for trying to review and keep your spirits up:)

  3. THANK. YOU. This episode made me so, so angry and for the first time, almost embarrassed to be an X-Files fan. I haven’t decided if I’m going to rewatch it before the new season. UGH.

    Thank you for writing such a wonderful review (and for throwing some shade at the Lumineers).

  4. Very, very well said. Definitely agree about reclaiming my time. I’d like to reclaim it for about the entire episode.

    Not even M and S walking in that field could redeem it. It just felt like CC shoving his version/take of MSR into our faces and I really didn’t like that. Only bit I liked was the part on the porch.

    Looking forward to parts of s11 though and forgetting that Babylon ever existed.

  5. This is brilliantly put, as always​. CC needed you as script supervisor.

    It’s quite ironic that that terribly communicated final scene was apparently depicting their commitment to communicate better. I had no idea what the fuck they were talking about between the stilted dialogue and the cringeworthy “mother love” bullshit (ummmm, Mulder, haven’t you noticed that she’s especially having difficulty dealing with her decision to give William up for adoption lately?) It just communicated “this is an awkward ending to an awful episode” to me, which I suppose summed up what I took away from Babylon: you might have good ideas but if you communicate them terribly nobody will like them. Of course this episode may never have been a good idea. Thanks for suffering through it again to bring us this.

  6. I just realized that I’ve completely forgotten all the details of this terrible episode, which means that I can watch those gifs of Mulder and Scully walking through the fields together and not think about anything except how beautiful and happy they look. I love the Unremarkable House. In some of these shots, it could be the farmhouse in Virginia where I spent a lot of my childhood. There’s one gif in particular – the one with the side of the house and some bushes in the background – where it looks for all the world like they’re walking toward the field where I used to play baseball with my brother, and Mulder is just about to step on home plate. (Obviously I identify a lot with Mulder’s idealized image of what home is. These sun-drenched fields just give me such a visceral sense of happiness. Also I would like to make Mulder a patchwork quilt. I feel like his current aesthetic needs it.)

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