THE X-FILES season 10 may be over, but we Philes aren’t finished with discussing it — not by a long shot. In part three of our roundtable discussion, we had a chat about William.
Scully and Mulder’s miracle child was all over season 10, so no discussion of the revival could be complete without us sharing our thoughts on his involvement in the mythology, both as a source of pain for his parents and as a possible future player in saving the world.
So, Philes: Do you ever think about William? What are your thoughts?
Shana: I spent my time watching the first five episodes of the season, suffering through the many painful references to Scully’s long-lost miracle child and fervently praying to the television gods that all of that build-up meant he’d play a major role in the big finish. Be careful what you wish for, I guess. I mean, he’s going to be a big piece of the puzzle moving forward, assuming we ever get to move forward. How that manages to happen, though…Oh, Mr. Carter, please don’t screw this up. I’m not even asking for me. I’m asking for Scully. Scully deserves closure here, happy closure. For once.
Again, if we were going to create a rift between Mulder and Scully, some real storytelling would have been nice, and the obvious lack of closure when it came to their son would have been the perfect place to do that. Aside from Scully’s tearful admission in the season 9 finale (“Our son, Mulder… I gave him up. Our son. I’m so afraid you could never forgive me”) and a brief mention in the second film, culminating with Mulder’s feelings on the matter (“I think our son left us both with an emptiness that can’t be filled”), all signs point to the lead characters’ never having fully worked through the pain of losing William. Further evidence: “Do you ever think about William?” We’re in season 10, the kid would be fifteen years old by now, and Scully actually has to ask Mulder if he ever thinks about the son she gave away while he was off…doing whatever it was he was doing.
There’s your story for why that relationship fell apart: an emptiness that can’t be filled and an outright failure to deal with it. Even then, the logic falls somewhat short, given the characters’ immense history? But at least it’s something that’s true to what they’ve suffered apart and in silence, when they should have been there for one another.
The heartbreak of seeing Scully and Mulder imagine raising their son in “Founder’s Mutation” was made that much worse when Scully wasn’t in Mulder’s daydream or vice versa, especially since I can’t believe either of them coming up with a perfect parenting scenario that didn’t involve actually getting to share in their son’s upbringing. Maybe it’s because Scully spent so much time referring to William as “My Baby” that Mulder felt left out, or maybe it had to do with Scully having been left alone both while pregnant and in the few short months after giving birth that she got to spend with their child. Either way, the single parenting stung. And don’t even get me started on that lasting image of William’s parents gazing at his baby picture, alone.
At least by the final line of the season, Scully outright said that William was their son again…So, maybe there’s hope.
William’s origins are still somewhat fuzzy, considering Scully wasn’t supposed to be able to have children after one of the many traumas involved in her abduction included the removal and harvesting of her ova, and “Per Manum” taught us that her attempts at IVF failed. So, who really is this kid? What role does Scully’s alien DNA play in his creation? And how is he going to feel about saving the life of a father he’s never known, at the request of a mother who supposedly gave him away to protect him from the very conspiracy he’ll now be dragged back into? How are they even going to find him?
Despite being referenced again and again — whether by direct mention or even all of the obvious mother-and-son moments in the supposedly stand alone episodes — the entire life of William Scully (Mulder?) still remains one of the biggest unanswered questions and proverbial dropped balls of the entire series. It’s unfair to the characters, as well as the viewers, to keep this unresolved. Again, I feel like too much was crammed into too few episodes. William: There’s your story. All of this alien DNA, rewriting history, and even rewriting the Mulder Scully relationship? All that did was distract from solving what has always been one of the series’ greatest and most neglected mysteries.
Dana Scully deserves better, especially now that she’s going to single-handedly be our lady and savior. Fox Mulder deserves better. And William — whoever, whatever and wherever he is — deserves better.
Luciana: Sigh. William is my biggest problem with the original run of the show. It was the one storyline that I felt was handled so poorly, that maybe they shouldn’t have done it at all if they didn’t know where they were going with it. Even though William was first introduced in the season 7 finale, when Scully found out she was pregnant, it felt like they had no idea what to do with a baby two years later, so they just decided “sure, let’s just give him up for adoption and be done with it”.
I understand the motivation (he was in danger and blablabla), I really do, but I don’t agree with it. If they decided to make Scully a mother – a decision that I imagine was not made lightly – then why take her child away from her, when it was her biggest dream? Hadn’t she suffered enough already by then?
Through the entire show, I had the impression that poor Scully was the writers’ personal punching bag. I mean, everything bad happened to her – from being abducted to having cancer, her sister being murdered, just to mention a few of the tragedies in her life – and then when finally something amazing happens, a miracle, they take it away? Why give it to her at all, then?
It just felt like they introduced this storyline, and then halfway through decided that it had not been their greatest idea ever to have an agent who dealt with strange, paranormal phenomena be a mother, so they had to find a way to get rid of it.
Alright, so it defined Scully as a character for the remaining episodes, the second movie and now the revival, but they didn’t know that back then. They didn’t know that fourteen years later, they would be back and that they would be able to explore this particular storyline again and how it has affected Scully and her relationship with Mulder. Giving up a child is no easy feat and it has left deep emotional scars on both Scully and Mulder – but especially on Scully. I can only imagine how William has always been something of a ghost hanging over them; and that, ultimately, played a part in separating them (if we are to believe that there is any plausible reason at all as to why they are not together).
Bottom line is, it was not handled well. At all. But it gave them something to work with after all these years. William was present from the get-go this time around, hanging over everything. Every decision, every case, every character. It was obvious, from “Founder’s Mutation”, that he would be a major factor in episodes to come, and I almost feel cheated that we didn’t get to see that particular thread develop into a full-fledged storyline. We only had teases, like they were dangling William in front of us, only to take him away at the last second.
Also, William’s conception was never really explained. I believed – as so many of us did, even though Chris Carter tried to vehemently deny it for years – that he was conceived in “All Things.” But it was only confirmed with a 100% certainty that he is, in fact, Mulder’s biological child now – and only because they need his stem cells. I have no idea how they are going to handle this, but I just hope they honor this and do it justice this time. If not for the fans, then out of respect for the characters they created.
Dana Scully deserves better than this.
Meghan: I never liked how William was handled in the original show. He was always more of a plot device than anything else, and we never got to see Mulder and Scully confront the idea of being parents. Furthermore, Chris Carter, for some odd reason, refrained from full-on admitting that Mulder is William’s biological father. It was heavily implied, and Mulder and Scully referred to William as “our son” several times, but Mulder and fatherhood was never really a huge part of the show because of Mulder’s absence the last few seasons. William’s one pitiful mention in I Want to Believe didn’t improve much, either.
With all that said, I like how the revival finally approached William in an emotional way. For the first time, we see Mulder and Scully confront the idea that they had to give up a child and what it means to be parents. “Founder’s Mutation” and “Home Again” do a particularly good job of treating William as an actual emotional subject and not Alien Miracle Jesus Messiah God Clark Kent Zeus Muhammed Chosen One Baby. For me, the key scenes were Mulder’s daydream in “Founder’s Mutation” and Scully’s speech at the end of “Home Again.” These scenes were beautifully crafted and provided a good picture of the quiet turmoil both Mulder and Scully have been going through for years, grappling with the idea of parenthood and loss. For the first time, I felt the pain of losing William.
If I’m to be honest, though, I wish they’d leave William out of the mythology altogether. I was extremely disappointed at the end of “My Struggle II” when Scully revealed that William was the key to saving Mulder — something I’m not quite sure I understand on a logical level, but whatever — therefore bringing William back into the mythology. I felt that the careful work that James Wong and Glen Morgan did with their episodes, having Mulder and Scully emotionally face William, was undone in a mere few lines written by Chris Carter in the finale. William’s gone, right? Scully gave him up. Let the matter rest.
Still, though, it was nice that “My Struggle II” finally, finally established a physical connection between Mulder and William. If I’m not mistaken, I do believe that this is the first time the series has stated that Mulder is William’s biological daddy, and you know what that means: Chris Carter has finally admitted that Mulder and Scully had sex before I Want to Believe. So much for Platonic™ Activity.
Avi: I’m very glad that the hesitation about William that we had sat through during the ninth season of the show evaporated one way or another. I’m still curious about how Chris Carter will continue to weave his importance into season eleven, as it is a sensible subject to many, but I thought that charging head-on was what was needed. I’m really excited about the prospect of him becoming such a pivotal part of Mulder’s salvation.
Lizzie: This is one of those either go ALL IN or leave it ALONE for good things. For a long time, I was sure they were going to leave it alone. I didn’t like it. Then again, I was never a fan of that storyline, so if they could forget, so could I. And then they made Mulder and Scully bring him up again and again, which, good, healthy and all..But if you’re going to bring the kid up again and again there had better be a plan behind it all. He’d better show up at some point, or, at the very least, you’d better give this silly storyline some closure.
I don’t know if I should be happy or upset that they apparently ARE going to go find William. Wait…I take that back, I do know. Happy. Happy because that’ll just give Gillian and David all the emotional material that they need to finally get me on board with this. Before, William was treated as just a thing that happened, instead of the kid they had to give up. Out of sight, out of mind, and all that.
The emotional ramifications were never explored – not fully – and when they were, it was only Scully’s thoughts that we saw, Scully’s guilt. But, considering what we saw in these six episodes, the show looks as if it’s finally ready to treat his storyline with the respect it deserves: To show me TWO parents struggling with this decision in different ways. To give William a voice of his own.
I don’t have faith in everything, but I do have faith in these actors and in all the ways they can make me feel. William, and the romantic relationship between the leads, are where all the feels are. If Chris Carter is smart, he’ll remember this.