The X-Files featured a number of opening monologues, narrated most often by Mulder or Scully, which served a variety of purposes. Some introduced new information about characters' pasts while others allowed us to consider the themes which the episode was about to explore. In this top ten we look at some of the greatest opening monologues heard over the years. Read after the jump to see what made the list.
10. "Dreamland Part Two"
We kick off our list with one of the less significant monologues the show produced, but an unusual one nonetheless. Most of the opening monologues were read by Mulder or Scully and only a handful of other characters ever had the honor, but one of them was Morris Fletcher who ended up giving us two (his second ran over the opening of "Jump The Shark" in season nine - incidentally the last monologue to run on the show so far). It could also be argued that "Dreamland Part Two" is the only non-mythology episode to receive the opening monologue treatment as it toes the line between being a MOTW or a mythology. While the monologue doesn't give us any new information, it did give us a rare glimpse into the happier side of Mulder's childhood.
"Once upon a time, there was a guy with the improbable name of Fox Mulder."
"Biogenesis" wins the award for the longest opening monologue in the history of The X-Files; Scully's lesson on the history of life and of the five great extinctions of the past lasts for over two and a half minutes. Beginning out in space with a wide shot of the entire planet, the visuals drift from the sea through microscope images of increasingly diverse organisms, and then through what appears to be half of National Geographic's stock footage library. The latter half of the speech appears like a shortened version of Disney's Spaceship Earth ride, rapidly progressing from cave painting to the launch of Apollo 11. The monologue ends on a spiritual note with Scully asking if our existence has a plan or a purpose and if so, will that knowledge ever be revealed to us - setting us up perfectly for the events of the three-parter.
"But for all our knowledge, what no one can say for certain, is what or who ignited that original spark."
8. "One Breath"
Maggie Scully is another of the rare supporting characters to receive her own opening monologue, in fact she even manages the feat before her own daughter. Maggie's monologue at the beginning of "One Breath" is only the second on the show and it also gave us the first glimpse of a young Dana Scully, as well as the first confirmed sightings of her two brothers. Incidentally there is a small continuity error to be found here. Maggie tells us that "it was autumn" and then relates a story that Dana's brother's were teaching her to shoot the B.B. gun they had given her for her birthday. We know that Scully's birthday is actually February 23rd (established in season one) so unless Bill and Charlie had waited the entire of spring and summer to teach her to shoot it, it seems that someone got their dates mixed up.
"For her birthday, Dana's brothers had given her a B.B. gun and were showing her how to use it."
7. "Trust No 1"
The opening monologues covered a huge range of subjects, from the formation of life itself to specific details of the lives of the characters, however the opening of "Trust No 1" is one of very few to discuss, in detail, Mulder and Scully's relationship. Instead of vague suggestions, Scully's open letter to her young son describes her feelings toward Mulder in decidedly unambiguous terms. She calls Mulder her "perfect other", her "protector and endangerer" and admits that she found "the truth" within her own heart. It is as close to a declaration of undying love as this show ever came, but this being The X-Files these admissions come at a cost. As she speaks we see Scully's anguish at being kept apart from this man she loves and she admits finally that their separation is painful to her and has left her "desperate".
"And if one day you should behold a miracle, as I have in you, you will learn the truth is not found in science, or on some unseen plane, but by looking into your own heart."
6. "Paper Clip"
The final minor character to appear on this list is Albert Hosteen who gave us opening monologues in both "The Blessing Way" and "Paper Clip". The "Paper Clip" monologue introduced us to several Navajo beliefs, including the story of the white buffalo calf, a symbol that would be revisited many seasons later in the episode "William".
"This was a powerful omen and great changes were coming."
The opening of "Essence" gave voice to many of the questions fans had themselves regarding the conception of William. Mulder struggles through questions regarding the child's parentage and how he came to exist as he tries to determine not only what to tell Scully and the child, but what to tell himself. Blended into a speech on the miracle of life and the role modern technology now plays in it, the questions become broader and invite opinions from the other side of the screen. Some of the questions were answered by the end of "Existence", but many were left for us to explore on our own.
"What do I tell this child about to be born? What do I tell Scully? And what do I tell myself?"
4. "All Things"
The great existential question raised in the opening monologue of "All Things" is often lost to the excitement of the visuals. While we watch Scully dress and leave behind a sleeping (and fairly undressed) Mulder, we are asked to consider the infinite choices we make in our lives, and the ways that any one of them could impact our futures entirely. For anyone who has ever considered that if they hadn't stopped for an ice cream that fateful day they wouldn't have met their partner, or could have been caught up in a disaster minutes later, this is familiar territory and it is interesting to hear Scully considering those very same ideas.
"How rarely do we stop to examine that path, to see the reasons why all things happen."
The opening scene of "Closure" is easily one of the most heartbreaking in the entire X-Files canon, if only because it is too easy to recognise from our own world. This is no paranormal spook story, easily dismissed as fiction and forgotten about just as quickly, instead this is the true face of horror, the one we fear because it has the possibility of happening to us. For all he has seen, these are the truths Mulder fears the most, and his desire to believe that "that which is born still lives and cannot be buried in the cold earth" is possibly his most ardent.
"I want to believe so badly in a truth beyond our own, hidden and obscured from all but the most sensitive eyes."
2. "Little Green Men"
"Little Green Men" gave us the first ever opening monologue on The X-Files. Mulder recounts a history of our species' attempts to communicate with anyone out there who could hear us, beginning with the Voyager spacecraft and a look at the message those two mechanical ambassadors are still carrying out toward the stars. We also learn about NASA's High Resolution Microwave Survey whose base in Arecibo, Puerto Rico is so vital to this episode and was indeed shut down after less than one year. To this day S.E.T.I. are still listening, but so far their efforts have still found nothing.
"We wanted to believe. We wanted to call out."
1. "Memento Mori"
Whenever I think of opening monologues on The X-Files, there is always one that springs immediately to the front of my mind. That one is "Memento Mori". Scully's letter to Mulder as she faces down an enemy she "can neither conquer nor escape" is brutal in its honesty and, for a character so determined to appear strong, stunning in its frank depiction of her feelings. Scully invites Mulder to look into her heart and know her memories and experiences, while revealing to him that he is responsible for her strength now. It is the most sincere of love letters written in the most tragic of circumstances, and one which in just one minute and twenty-two seconds serves to deepen our understanding not only of the facts Scully currently faces, but of her emotional and spiritual reaction to them also.
"I feel these words as if their meaning were weight being lifted from me, knowing that you will read them and share my burden, as I have come to trust no other."