I love the X-Files with the fire of a thousand suns. My college roommates and I watched it religiously every week and taped them for long binge rewatch sessions. Sometimes, we would also drink alcoholic beverages out of test tubes, but that’s a different story altogether.
One of the things I loved the most about the show is that it took risks. After the first few episodes, I felt like I knew what to expect—there would be a tense, weird mystery. Mulder and Scully would banter; Scully would claim impossibility while Mulder stubbornly held onto his beliefs in the unknown. The scares would be plentiful, because the makers of the show had a great grasp of exactly how much to show and how much to leave to the viewers’ imaginations. But every once in a while came an episode that somehow broke the mold. A monster-of-the-week versus a big overreaching story arc. A noir episode. But my favorite of all of them is the one with the little feet—Syzygy.
In this episode, teens are dying in a small New Hampshire town, reportedly at the hands of a satanic cult. One of them, a guy with the delightful name of “Boom” De Boom, is played by Ryan Reynolds. At his funeral, the coffin spontaneously combusts. The corpse sports a burn mark too, which Mulder and the attractive local police detective think looks like a horned beast. Of course Scully thinks they’re nuts, even moreso when the bones of the next “victim” turn out to be a dog named Mr. Tippy.
The mystery continues to develop, and on the surface, it’s a fairly typical X-Files show. There’s spontaneous combustion, mysterious murders, evidence of telekinetic activity, and planetary alignments that could possibly lead to the manifestation of strange powers. But the tone is something completely different, because Syzygy is satire. Mulder and Scully bicker like an old married couple throughout the episode, drawing on fan theories and complaints in the process. At one point, Scully complains that she never gets to drive (which fans of the show had also complained about), leading to Mulder’s explanation that her little feet can’t reach the pedals.
One of the things that I love about the episode is that bickering. Syzygy lets the duo get out and out exasperated with each other, leading to the repeated refrain of “Sure. Fine. Whatever.” Scully is jealous of Detective White but doesn’t want to admit it, and Mulder calls her on it, which was great for shippers who needed more fodder for their theories that the two would end up together. (And we were right, damnit!) And Mulder’s in fine form, asking Detective White to help him solve the mystery of the horny beast, knocking on Scully’s shoe size, and sniffing people to figure out who exactly is wearing his favorite perfume.
I’ve heard people say that they don’t like this episode because Mulder and Scully don’t act like themselves, but I don’t see it the same way. Syzygy exaggerates everything about the show to comical proportions. You want romantic tension? We’re going to give you ridiculous levels! Witty banter? It’ll come out their ears! Victims of the supernatural? Sure, you can have those, but we’re going to name them things like Boom DeBoom and Mr. Tippy.
The more exaggerated it got, the harder I laughed. I love the thought that such a successful show didn’t take itself too seriously. It’s one of the things I think of when I add bits of humor to an otherwise tense story, like the plants Nevaeh, May, and Seyah find in episode three of ReMade.