Otherwise known as, “Knife Ink is trying to find ways to keep stalling the ‘Memento Mori’ review.”
Nothing is guaranteed. I frequently say that I wish I’d been born earlier so I could have grown up watching The X-Files, but I realized a few days ago that even if I had been born earlier, there’s no guarantee I would have watched the show. Perhaps my obsession with The X-Files was a result of just the right combination of happenstance, age, and opportunity. Whether by chance or by that most elusive of all words – fate – I became a fan of this show. And I’m starting to think that the timing was more important than I’ve given it credit for.
The Season 2 finale, “Anasazi,” is a deeply personal episode to me. As I explained in my review, “Anasazi” marks the episode during which I became a true fan. Here’s something you need to know about me – I’m really, really bad at finishing things, particularly TV shows. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two seasons of Hannibal but for whatever reason haven’t bothered to start the third. Same with Twin Peaks. It’s not that I don’t like these shows, it’s just that after a certain point I wasn’t willing to drop everything and immerse myself in them fully.
As I’ve been participating in these rewatches, I’ve noticed that the voices of younger Philes aren’t often as distinct as you might think they’d be. That’s not a criticism by any means. In fact, it’s a testament to how timeless the show really is. Age doesn’t matter when you’re a Phile, just as it doesn’t matter if you’re a Trekkie. I’ve actually felt very frustrated before at not having been born earlier, but like I said, maybe if I had been I would have missed the show altogether. Let me tell a little story.
On my sixteenth birthday, I did not receive a car but I did get an Amazon Kindle Fire, which was my first touchscreen device that could actually access the internet. When you buy an Amazon device they give you a free month of Amazon Prime, and along with that, Amazon Instant Watch. This was super exciting for me, because now it meant I could stay up late and watch whatever I wanted without using Netflix, as my parents would see all the activity on the shared account (I think you can file that under “21st century problems”).
So I started scrolling through TV shows. I watched a few pilots, tried out a few things here and there, but nothing really grabbed me. Keep in mind the only TV show I’d watched all the way through at this point was Star Trek, and I certainly had never binge-watched anything before.
Of all the pilots I saw, there was only one show that made me want to watch the second episode. And the third. And the fourth. And so on. But I’ve always been (rather notoriously) tough to please, and this show – The X-Files, whatever that was – was going to have to step up its game before any serious sorts of commitments.
I always mark two milestones in my binge-watch of The X-Files. The first is “Beyond the Sea,” an episode that stands out amongst the incredibly decent first season. “Beyond the Sea” isn’t incredibly decent; it’s fantastic. It was the first episode that hinted that I could be starting on something special here, the episode that kept me watching. The second milestone? “Anasazi.”
I very vividly recall my experience watching this episode for the first time, more so than any other episode of the show. Imagine 16-year-old Knife Ink hiding under the covers at 3 in the morning, on a school night, no less. In high school I had to get up at 5:30 so the next day I was the closest thing to a zombie the Earth had ever seen. I was clutching the sides of my little Kindle Fire and as I stared at the hot desert sand that comprises much of this episode I remember thinking that I was looking through a window to a world I deeply loved and intimately knew. It’s difficult to intimately know a lot of things when you’re sixteen, you know?
Maybe I watched “Anasazi” at just the right time. That was nearly four years ago, a laughable amount of time to be a fan of a show many people have been watching for over twenty years. But I was also the same age many people were when they started watching it – a teenager. A shy, incredibly awkward teenager who, at that point, wasn’t obsessed with a lot of things. The X-Files, for better or for worse, came into my life right around the time you’re supposed to decide who you are and what you want to do with your life and yourself and the people around you. Puberty, college, high school, those are things that most of us have to deal with and we all handle them differently. The things you’re exposed to at that point in your life are important, whether you see it at the time or not. Hell, technically I’m not even done with my teenage years, and although I’m certainly out of puberty, I know I’m not quite what one would call a full-blown adult yet. I’ve still got lots of growing to do.
Whenever I picture the moment I fell in love with The X-Files, I think of hot desert sand, Native American sayings, piles of bodies in boxcars, Mulder in a blue shirt, the Lone Gunmen, Mulder basically collapsing on top of Scully, explosions, the Cigarette Smoking Man. I picture this episode.
It’s not so much that “Anasazi” is necessarily any better or worse than any other episode of the show (although it is without a doubt the best season finale, if we’re being real), it’s that for whatever reason, this episode had all the right elements to hit me at the right moment in time for me to develop an intense emotional connection with two fictional TV characters – and this is coming from someone who didn’t cry at the beginning of Up and thinks that Titanic is a stupid movie. I didn’t and still don’t do sentimentality well (lucky for me, The X-Files is basically the nerdiest love story of all time). The fact that I would get this passionate about, well, anything is still, four years later, a weird and if I’m being honest somewhat disturbing concept for me.
But when I think about what The X-Files has done for me, I’ll be honest, this stoic gets a little sentimental. It introduced me to two fantastic characters. It taught me about good and bad storytelling. It made me want to start writing opinionated reviews. It introduced me to a wonderful fandom. It taught me how the key to successful relationships and ways of working things out is not to be completely of one mind but to find the middle ground. That working with someone who isn’t necessarily like you can produce the greatest of results. Those things are all more important than worrying about what age I was when Fight the Future came out.
My point is, I’m not going to worry so much about not being older anymore. The show is still the show, and it still works for people as young as me. It will continue to work. And this episode is a great part of why.
Maybe I didn’t grow up with The X-Files. But The X-Files, perhaps in ways I haven’t even figured out yet, has helped me grow.
-Knife Ink, A proud Baby Phile.
P.S. – I should also mention that this episode made me intensely interested in the Anasazi. I have been to the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings in Colorado and I would highly encourage any and all of you to take a vacation there if you have the time. It’s one of the most remarkable places I’ve ever been. Definitely worth a trip.