Shiny Shelf

SHINY ADVENT: The X-Files – The Ghosts Who Stole Christmas

By Mags L Halliday on 18 December 2006

“If I heard ‘Silent Night’ one more time I was going to start taking hostages.” Scully.

There’s more than one Yuletime episode of ‘The X-Files’ to choose from, but the others tend towards the maudlin instead of the gothic humour. There’s a point, somewhere in the middle of its nine year run, where the series revisits early story ideas with a sense of self-awareness. There’s the rural vampire story told from multiple points of view in contrast to the serious season 2 blood fetishists. There’s Mulder dodging Nazis on a ghost boat in the Bermuda Triangle, a body swap episode, and there’s Mulder and Scully in a haunted house on Christmas Eve.

Mulder talks Scully into investigating a house where an unhappy pair of star-crossed lovers committed suicide in a lovers’ plot seventy years earlier, and where at least three other couples have since committed suicide. The doors lock, the hour strikes and the ghosts appear. Much to Scully’s annoyance as she’s got a family gathering in a few hours. Mulder and Scully are paralleled with the ghosts: where the agents are alone and unhappy, the ghosts are together and delight in each other’s company.

The episode makes use of a single haunted house set and simple tricks which, along with the limited but excellent cast (Edward Asner and Lily Tomlin as the macabre ghosts), place the emphasis on the emotional narrative. The ghosts rip into the agents, neatly and quickly finding the fears to play on, and providing loving send-ups of the characters themselves. Ultimately, it is Mulder’s trust in his partner which saves them both and gives them, if not a happy ending, then at least a happy Christmas with each other.

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