The X-Files-themed Outside In Trusts No One is the seventh volume in the Outside In series of uniquely eclectic critical essay collections on your favorite fictional worlds. When a book contains 156 essays of bewilderingly different styles and approaches, it’s hard to find just one to represent it, but here is just such an excerpt for you to check out!
The new book, according to publisher ATB Publishing, celebrates “over 25 years of The X-Files, and nearly 50 years of Kolchak: The Night Stalker.” Kolchak, of course, was the 1970s spiritual antecedent to The X-Files which inspired creator Chris Carter to make his show. More from ATB:
“Outside In Trusts No One is a collection of 156 reviews, one for every story of each show. Well, we say ‘reviews,’ but we mean that loosely: Within these pages, you’ll find recipes, union meetings, restaurant ads, time loops, mixtapes, personal ads, a thesis, Venn diagrams, musicals, plays, role-playing games, building-code reports and a color-by-numbers game. Not to mention insightful and thoughtful articles, examining the worlds of shadowy conspiracies, UFOs and monsters of the week from just about every aspect imaginable… and then some!”
Previous volumes of the Outside In series have covered classic and modern Doctor Who, Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly. The eighth book, Outside In Wants To Believe, will conclude the examination of the extended X-Files universe in 2021 with the remaining seasons of X-Files not covered in the current volume as well as the spin-offs Millennium, Lone Gunmen, and Harsh Realm. Future volumes already planned will tackle Twin Peaks, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Babylon 5, and a revisiting of classic Who to celebrate 10 years of the Outside In series.
Outside In Trusts No One will be released on October 13, but pre-orders are open now at
Read on for an excerpt from the book, based on the eighth episode of Season 1, “Ice.”
BY RACHEL L. RAMLAWI
My mom never let me watch The X-Files growing up. I really, really wanted to, because I loved sci-fi and also really only wanted to watch stuff with female characters who were smart, kicked butt and helped save the day. That hasn’t really changed as an adult; my standards at the age of seven were impeccable. I wasn’t allowed to watch The X-Files, though, because my mom was pretty convinced it was going to give me nightmares, no matter how much I wanted to watch the cool FBI lady be smart, kick butt and help save the day. Of course, to be entirely fair to my mom, the previews for the show often did give me nightmares as a kid.
But guess what mom, I’m an adult now, and I can watch whatever I want!
[Insert 42 minutes of Ice here. The episode, that is, not the drug.]
She was right, The X-Files is too scary for me. I mean yeah, this episode is pretty creepy. It’s got bugs that make people try and kill one another; a strangling sense of isolation; creeping paranoia, as you no longer know who to trust and who not to trust; the philosophical question of identity and who we are if a parasite can cause us to become violent; and the even deeper philosophical question of fear and how that can “infect” us and drive us to violence, leading to questions about the very core of human nature and if violence is simply a part of us. But who wants to delve deep and talk about human nature? Let’s talk about the three scariest things in this episode, ranked from least to most scary.
3. Bugs crawling in your ears.
For those of you who maybe don’t remember, this is the episode where they’re all together in a science bunker in the Artic and an alien parasitic worm is driving people insane and making them want to kill each other. Definitely the thing I would have been scared of as a kid is the bug that crawls in through your ear. The X-Files hits a classic fear right on the head. That something is going to
crawl into your ear. I’m creeped out thinking about it right now. This definitely would have kept me up as a kid worrying about protecting the two vulnerable holes on the side of my head that are apparently the exact size of a worm.
2. Being locked in a bunker with scary men.
Day gives way to night, and, by the end of the episode, we hit scary thing number two. Being locked in an underground bunker with three guys who are really just willing to let everything erupt into chaos and murder after less than 24 hours of being stuck with one another. Poor Scully is stuck in a woman’s worst nightmare. She’s brilliant and rational, and she has to deal with these buffoons who are willing to let things descend into Lord of the Flies–style chaos almost immediately. And I’m talking about the end of the book where they were murdering each other, not the start where they were trying to set up a democracy.
During the night, one member of the party is infected with the parasite, and Mulder is suspected just because he
happened to be found with a dead body. Then, just like that, Mulder and Dr. Hodge are willing to just murder each other to prove that neither one of them is infected with the alien parasite. It’s a flawed plan, really. Prove you’re not going to be a violent killer by grabbing the closest weapon and get ready to kill the next person who says you are. Scully then has to do the most terrifying thing I can think of: step in between two men who are ready to kill each other, one of whom has a gun. Which he points at Scully while attempting to reassure her that he’s not crazy and violent! It turns out in the end that neither Hodge nor Mulder are actually infected; they just act like this when you strip away all manner of civility. Which is terrifying! When given, like, half an excuse, men will attempt to just murder one another without even thinking things through, and, apparently, it’s on smarter, more capable women to make sure they don’t. It’s horrifying.
And, last but not least, the scariest thing is….
1. Fear of the dog dying.
Oh, the tension of having an animal in anything action- or horror-related. It’s the butthole-clenching kind of terror, isn’t it? This episode has a very cute dog in it, black and white and brown; it’s got a nice and shiny coat, looks cuddly, and now I have to worry about it dying. It’s 40 minutes of table-gripping terror, worrying if that dog is going to make it to the end of the episode. What if they shoot it? What if the testing kills it? What if they forget it there when they leave? What if they all murder each other, but then he doesn’t have anything to eat? It’s a unique kind of stress that can only be induced by including a dog. It’s immediate from the first time the dog enters the scene as it attacks Mulder and the pilot — now I’m worried. Are they going to have to shoot the dog? That’s not something anyone wants to see.
I’d rather Mulder have his throat ripped out than the dog getting shot. The dog is off screen for most of the episode, and, while I’m hoping someone is feeding it, the episode is attempting to distract me with scientists fighting. Like I care about these people more than the dog. I don’t. Towards the end, they bring the dog back as they test a cure on it, and now I have to worry about it dying all over again! No one knows if introducing a second brain worm will kill the dog. The X-Files wants me to believe it’s more ethical to test this on a dog than a person, but I’m not buying it for a second. As the dog is yelping and twitching, I’ve forgotten to breathe while I’m waiting to see if it’s okay. Honestly, this should have been the end of the episode; who cares if Mulder is going to be fine? Hats off to the writers for knowing how to give me 40 minutes of anxiety.
Mom, you were right. The X-Files is way too scary for me to watch.
Rachel Ramlawi is getting her Master’s Degree in Popular Culture from Bowling Green State University and is still worried about that dog.
Pre-order you copy of Outside In Trusts No One now at
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Editor’s Note: ATB Publishing Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Arnold T. Blumberg is an occasional contributor to IGN.