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The Much Maligned Teena Mulder

Teena Mulder with son Fox and daughter Sam at HalloweenOften referred to as the evil Mrs. Mulder, or the cold Mulder Mom, Teena Mulder, 'nee Kuipers, is perhaps one of the most misunderstood female characters in all of tv history.

Teena Mulder was born in 1941, in Ohio, where she began life as Elizabeth Christina Kuipers. She married State Department official William (Bill) Mulder in the late 1950s or very early 1960s, and lived on Martha's Vineyard, in Chilmark, Massachusetts until her divorce. She then lived in Greenwich, Connecticut. The Mulders also had a summer home in Quonochontaug, Rhode Island - the home from where Samantha Mulder was abducted at the age of 8.

Teena Mulder is the mother to daughter Samantha (born in January 1965 by most accounts, although there are a few date discrepancies throughout the show), and son Fox (born in October 1961 by most accounts throughout the show). Teena Mulder and baby Fox Mulder

She is also one of the most maligned characters in X-Files history. She is viewed as verbally and sometimes physically abusive, as well as cold and unfeeling. Pretty harsh, and pretty wrong, so methinks. I mean, Mulder doesn't say a bad word about his mum, even when venting to Scully about pretty much everything under the sun! He visits when he can, and turns to her for a lot of answers, cries at her bedside, has pictures of her in a desk drawer...And yet Teena is still viewed as the evil mother figure.

The way I see it, poor Teena was done wrong, I tell ye!

She has all the attributes of being a strong, compassionate, caring woman who adored her children, and tried her best with her relationships.

Halloween with the Mulder FamilyBut, wait, what about the infamous Fox slap? (1 out of 10 episodes where she wasn't shown in the best light - 10% of all her appearances on the X-Files - and this is what people usually focus on when thinking of Teena)

What about the fact that she seems so stoic in the face of adversity? What about the whole CSM situation??

A’right, a’right, simmer down, now, I’ll get there eventually, I promise. First, let’s focus on some of the good things. Some of the things that make Teena a good woman, good mother, and good wife/lover.

And be warned, gentle reader - this is a loooong page, so settle in with your coffee, and enjoy the read!

Table of Contents
The Good Stuff!
Compassion & Patience
Protective Love
A Willingness to Help
A Desire to Hold on to Memories

Other Considerations
Time Era
Secrecy - Visitors

What About the Not So Good Stuff?
The Alleged Abuse Evidence
Cold and Unfeeling?

The Good Stuff!

Compassion & Patience

I have one thing to say before I delve into this section, and that is this: If anyone ever busted into my room in the middle of the night, and started demanding answers to random questions, I'd instantly be figuring out ways to exact my revenge.

The kind of revenge that involves a burning bag of dog doody on a porch. This is doubly true if they were questions that had to do with things that happened decades ago. Which is why I am seriously impressed with Teena Mulder's composure when being woken in the middle of the night.

Take for example this scene from Paper Clip:


Now I don't know about you, but I might wake up slapping if someone sat on the edge of my bed and woke me up with a nudge and a light in my face. But not Teena Mulder, ladies and gentlemen. She calmly sits up, and talks with her son. She seems concerned with him being there, hoping that he is all right, and proceeds to patiently listen to him talk away about conspiracies and past events.

Is she being secretive when she says she can't remember some things? Perhaps. And maybe she's still half asleep, and it really does take her a few minutes to be jolted back to the land of the awake.

Trust me, without my coffee in the early A.M., my brain pretty much leaves me looking zombie-esque whenever someone asks me a question. It goes a little something like this:

"Hey, how's that editing coming?"

The thing is, even if Teena isn't just feeling the effects of grogginess, and is trying to hide something, it is likely to protect her son. After all, she knows very well what these powerful men did (and can still do), and she likely doesn't want Mulder wrapped up in it.

As a Syndicate wife (oooh, note to self, that would make an awesome spin off show for tv...), Teena probably knows a lot more more secrets than she wants to know, and she likely also knows what knowing secrets can do to a person.

"But, wait," you say, "Maybe she was having an off day or something, and was just abnormally happy that one time. I'm still not convinced!"

All right, I can see where you're going with this.

Well, then, allow me to introduce "Exhibit B" for your perusal.

Imagine this scenario, if you will. You've just drifted off into a comfortable, dreamy sleep. Not an easy task since you have been known to have difficulty sleeping, and even take Diazepam from time to time to help you get to the Land of Nod. There you are, nestled under the warm covers as a cool breeze slips in the Teena Being Patient with Son Mulderpartially open window.

Suddenly you hear a noise from downstairs. Rustling. Like someone is in your home in the middle of the night, going through your things. You peek your head around the corner of the stairwell, noticing a faint glow of light coming from the basement.

What do you do?
a) call the cops
b) reach for your lamp hidden stiletto
c) forget the stiletto, I need firepower!
d) stroll down to the basement in your bedclothes, knowing already that it is your crazy son riffling through your possessions in the middle of the night.

Yeah, you guessed it. Teena opts for "d" in the episode Paper Hearts. Yet again, Teena shows an amazing level of patience with Mulder when he wakes her in the middle of the night, and begins asking rapid fire questions about the distant past, and about a vacuum cleaner that her ex-husband bought her decades ago. The woman deserves a medal.


Now I know what you're saying - she claimed to not remember some things again. It's the middle of the night, the people and events were from decades ago, and she had recently had a stroke. A little comparison: between about 3-5 A.M. I probably wouldn't even remember my own name.

Protective Love

If we take the scenes from the past, as seen in Demons, as truth, we see that Teena is fighting valiantly for her children, even standing up to her lover, and rallying her husband to try to change the course of events. She doesn't back down, even after being manhandled, even after being terrified by the behavior and/or words of her lover. This must have been a very awkward situation for her, especially if Bill Mulder did not know of her affair.

There is also the Talitha Cumi scene: Teena showing up at the summer home, finding CSM in the backyard (still trying to figure out if that was planned or not), and arguing with him. It is not just a small disagreement, either - that is one fiery argument!

Particularly funny in this scene is the all powerful CSM taking a quick step back when Teena starts chewing him out. That is one feisty lady to have that kind of effect on him!

He says something that clearly upsets her, and she is keeping tight lipped about whatever it is he is demanding to know. Likely for the sake of protecting Mulder, she is not saying a word. Again, even after being yelled at, and tugged around (as shown in the photo taken by X), she still refuses to say anything that might endanger her son.

We also see Teena at her son's bedside, getting visibly upset during the scene in Sixth Extinction: Amor Fati as the doctor heartlessly blurts out what is wrong with Mulder. After a while, Teena tells him, "Enough!" a clear sign that it is beyond upsetting to hear so bluntly what is wrong with her baby boy.

She is also upset that the doctors just keep sedating him, and that they're "turning him into a zombie." She clearly wants the situation to stop, wants Mulder's torment to stop. Any remaining doubt as to how she feels about him pretty much vanishes with the words, "I love you, my darling boy."

Yes, she leaves in that scene when he shows no response. Why? Could be that she was going to the cafeteria for some coffee after being there all night. Could be that she was going out to talk to a nurse. Could be that she was heading out to contact CSM, the only person she could think of to turn to for help. It could also be that they needed a dramatic fade out scene before getting to the CSM scene ;)


Watching the clip from Colony, it is tough to believe that Teena Mulder is anything but selfless. After all, she puts her grudges aside, and shows up at Bill Mulder's home for the world's most awkward "family reunion" when Samantha supposedly returns home to them.

There is seemingly no drama (with the exception of the obvious), and Bill seems oddly protective of her when he tells Mulder that his mother "needs some time." Doesn't sound like the Mulder parents were battling it out, they were simply getting together for the sake of the kids. After a divorce as messy as theirs (as was alluded to in the show), this is quite a feat. Teena even sleeps at Bill's home that night.

Now the usual critique here is that Teena needs a lot of reassurance from Mulder. Yes, she does. Maybe because Mulder is the only person she knows who can accept and make sense of bizarre situations such as his sister being returned after decades away.

Maybe Teena knows that if anyone out there would know the truth of what is happening, it would be her tenacious son.

Maybe it is because Teena's life has had a lot of sucky things happen, and Mulder is the only one who has been there for her with any kind of consistency.

In any case, it is undeniably adorable the way Mulder tucks his mom in, and tells her to get some sleep! Obviously they care a lot about each other, and it is cute to watch.

Teena telling Mulder where the stiletto is locatedWillingness to Help, but Concerned about Safety

As long as it wasn't something that Teena worried would drag her son deep into the bowels of the dirty Syndicate dealings, Teena Mulder was typically willing to help her son find the information he needed.

Shortly after Bill Mulder's funeral, for example, Mulder begins interrogating his mother about Strughold Mining Group Photos that are in his father's collection.

The look on her face communicates perfectly her worry over Mulder finding out too much information for his own good. My guess, Teena knows her ex-husband was murdered, she knows her old flame has been shot and threatened a few times, and she knows what happened to both her own family and Cassandra Spender and her family - she is not going to risk one of the most precious people still in her life by revealing too much information. She knows just how powerful the Consortium is, and she wants to protect Mulder from them - she just doesn't know how.

Teena tells him what she can, given her possible memory loss, and the number of years that have passed, but she tries. Does she tell him *everything* she knows? Probably not. And probably for his own good. And, seriously, safety reasons aside, would you want to know everything about your parents' pasts?

A Desire to Hold on to Memories

The mountain of photos that Teena Mulder still has really shows how tightly she wanted to hold onto the memories that she had of her kids.

It wasn't until her life was coming to an end that she was willing to give up those photos. (And I'm still on the fence on this one, too! I mean, maybe the Syndicate somehow got to her, and made it look like something entirely different than what it was. If they could control the entire world, surely they could pull it off if they wanted to...just sayin'...that's another page for another time! :)

Maybe she didn't want them falling into the wrong hands. Maybe she didn't want their little faces present to see her final moments. Or maybe she wanted her memories to be gone with the rest of her. Clearly this wasn't a selfish act in not giving Mulder the photos - he seemed to have duplicates of all of them


Mulder hugging his mum Teena Teena touching her son Mulder's face in Amor Fati Mulder hugging Mum Teena

Hug after hug, it becomes clear that while she remains cool on the outside, Teena Mulder just can't help but give her baby boy hugs when she can. There is also the gentle touch to his face when he is unwell in Amor Fati. Sweet, and very maternal in nature. Also sweet is the way she gently tilts his head so that she can look into his eyes, and see the son who is hiding behind the dazed mask.


Time Era

Young Teena and Bill MulderThe 1950s, 1960s, and even the 1970s were definitely a different time and place in US culture. Yep, I know there were exceptions, but as a general rule, women didn’t work outside of the home very often. Particularly wives of high level State Department officials like Bill Mulder.

Wives of secretive government men likely did what many women did well back in the day: they threw amazingly good parties, kept themselves looking nice, kept a comfortable home for their stressed out husbands, and knew how to keep secrets (likely secrets shared by stressed out husbands in the safety of a quiet bedroom). Divorce also wasn't as common as it is nowadays.

Secrecy - Visitors

What about visitors? What kid really cares about their parents’ boring dinner guests, or their parents’ boring dinner conversations? It’s really not hard to imagine that Mulder wouldn't remember high level state officials coming through his home on a Saturday night.

Heck, I wouldn’t recognize a lot of my parents’ friends if I met one decades later. Particularly if my parents hosted a lot of parties when I was growing up - sometimes all adults start to look like one big, boring group when you're young :)

Also, if we take the scenes from the past in Demons as truth, it is not unusual to see Bill Mulder's friend over after the kids were supposed to be asleep. Side note: anyone else find it weird that Mulder wouldn't remember CSM water skiing with his dad during the summers? I mean, seriously, how could one ever un-see a sight like that?!

Photo of the Mulders at a partyAs for Teena's role in this, chances are (given the time era, her husband's job, and perhaps their social standing) that there were a lot of parties (dinner parties and otherwise) hosted in the Mulder house and attended by the Mulder family. She was likely a good wife who knew how to throw an amazing 60s style party - if she forgot a few faces along the way, it is understandable.

C'mon, people, cut the woman some slack - she probably, at one time, had to dine in her home with Victor Klemper - not cool.

What About the Not So Good Stuff?


What about fidelity? Well, Fox was born in October of ‘61. That means he was conceived around January of ‘61. This isn’t quite the era of free love and swinging, but in the high-powered circle that William Mulder was a part of, a lot of things could happen, and get covered up. Case in point, the Kennedy family.

Young Teena and CSMThat said "mishaps" happen. Everyone is allowed some leeway when it comes to following the straight and narrow path set out by society. I don't know anyone who hasn't made some life decisions that left them unjudged by society, peers, family, etc. People can be pretty judgemental without knowing the "why" behind a scenario.

Teena Mulder catches some flack for the decision to be with CSM, but in reality it was both their decisions, and the reasons behind the start of the relationship are unclear at best.

Could it be that Teena and CSM knew each other before she married Bill? Watching the Army barracks scene in Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man certainly makes it a possibility. In that scene Bill proudly announces that his son said his first word (Yeah, I know 3 letters "JFK" isn’t technically *a* word, but hey, I’m overlooking that for now). He then hands CSM the photograph without any mention between the two of Teena (he calls baby Mulder "my 1 year old") - it’s odd that CSM and Bill had been friends, yet Bill seems acutely unaware that CSM even knows Teena, and doesn't refer to his son by name when talking to young CSM.

Or could it be that Teena was locked into a fairly cold marriage, and needed warmth that she found in the arms of another man?

Or could it be (and I've always kind of leaned towards this option myself) that Teena fell in love with CSM, but they were both locked into a situation that made it impossible for them to be together? She very likely loved 2 men, and was living in a very difficult situation.

Long story short, we don’t know what went on between Teena Mulder and her lover, or what got their relationship started. We can discern that it was likely fairly fiery, and that it ended on a very sudden (and bad) note, possibly with the disappearance of Samantha.

Teena Mulder talking to CSM in Amor FatiWe can also discern that somehow, somewhere deep in their hearts, there is still a little love and trust there.

After all, Teena, being so worried about Fox’s deteriorating mental health, agrees to let CSM take care of him. Should she have known what he was up to? Maybe, but she adored her son, and would do anything to help him get better.

The only other person she still could trust to help her seemingly impossible situation was CSM.

Concerned CSMThe love, while very understated, can be seen throughout the show in small ways. It is likely, for example, that the framed photo of young Fox and Sam (the one CSM is holding when he is shot) was given to CSM by Teena. It kind of makes sense, because it is unlikely Bill would have given it to him, and it is equally unlikely that CSM would have the time to go around stealing random family photos. Based on the ages of the kids, the photo was likely taken in the early 1970s, shortly before Samantha's disappearance.

The subtle love can also be seen by the look in CSM's eyes when Teena is unwell, particularly when he spends countless hours at her bedside. The concern is pretty obvious on his face, and he wants nothing more than to make her better.

A great example of this is when CSM is at Teena’s bedside in Herrenvolk when he spends time holding her hand as she lay ill in bed. This is shortly before convincing an alien bounty hunter to heal his beloved.

CSM Holding Teena's Hand

It is clear that CSM still loves Teena, and from the look on her face when she sees him at her bedside, she likely still has feelings for him as well(and is also probably amazed that he is there with her after their explosive fight, and is able to have her healed).

To what degree their feelings go I don't know, but there is something undeniable between these two, and the undercurrent of affection (while often hidden by fiery tempers and stubborn words) is there. Much like Marita and Krycek, these two likely had a fairly hot and cold relationship that was based on strong feelings for one another.

The Alleged Abuse Evidence

I really just can't buy this one too easily (although I have read some great fanfics that deal with it!) First of all, my mind always drifts back to the video of young Sam and Fox with their mum, presumably being filmed by their dad.

The way they are interacting with her, playing, and just being kids seems so natural and happy. If their dad is the one filming, he seems interested in capturing every detail, every ounce of happiness, on film.

It's also important to note that kids were different then, too. Believe me - just being a child of the 1980s leaves me feeling culture shock when I see how the young whipper snappers of today act with their parents. Kids didn’t have much input in big family decisions. They were expected to do as they were told, help their mother around the house, and not hassle their stressed out dad.

Talking back, disrespect, and mouthing off were not options. Kids were punished for bad behavior, and they knew that getting out of line wasn’t acceptable behavior.

Look at Mulder when he starts attempting to yell at his mom or talk to her without much respect. He starts looking down - you can almost imagine him, 10 years old, shuffling his feet, knowing that he had done something wrong. Does this mean he was used as the Mulder Family punching bag? No. Does it mean that he knows acting disrespectfully towards his mom is wrong, and it could get his heinder handed to him? Yeah.

Let's look even further at the beginning of this scene: Smiling at her unexpected visitors (look closely, she smiles as she leaves the window to answer the door), Teena opens the door. Mulder busts into her home without so much as a "hello," and starts demanding answers. Sharply. Obviously angry. Teena reacts with concern. Not anger, but worry. She asks Scully (since she knows Scully probably knows him better than anyone else) what is wrong with him, obviously concerned, and obviously aware that he is not acting normal.

Many people would have you believe that Teena put down her prescription drugs and multiple cocktails just long enough to shamble over to the door, and beat Mulder mercilessly while swearing at him like a dock worker on acid.

Problem is, I didn't see that happening in this scene (or any other). It isn't until Mulder starts yelling at her, throwing around words like "betrayed," and bringing up his mother's sexual past that she slaps him. An open handed slap to make him stop. Was it right? Mrs. Mulder could have "used her words," true, but she is also from an era where children didn't start firing ragetastic questions about their parents past sex lives. Maybe she was shocked and reacted out of anger. Maybe they had some unresolved tension leftover from a recent fight. Or maybe, more likely, she was trying to get him to stop asking questions before he found out an answer that would hurt him a lot more than a slap to the face.

There's also the argument that Teena was unconcerned that Mulder was bleeding. Here's a fun drinking game for ya the next time you turn on an X-Files marathon - take a huge swig of booze eveytime Mulder makes it through an entire episode *without* being injured in some way. You, my friend, will be a very sober viewer.

Maybe Teena is just really, really used to his bumps and bruises acquired on the field (back in his sports playing days), or on the job. She probably also felt horribly right after their fight, and likely went upstairs to cry in private.

And what about young Fox's slouchy and slumped over posture, in Demons? Maybe he's a kid who just went through a growth spurt, and he probably feels too tall in a cramped attic space. Maybe he was trying to sneak up to hear what the commotion downstairs was all about. Maybe he just had bad posture - something his parents probably would have reminded him regularly to fix. I had bad posture, too, from time to time, and my parents never laid a hand on me.

Unfortunately, I knew a few kids growing up who were abused by their parents. Sadly, they acted a whole lot different than how young (or older) Mulder acts with his parents.

Cold and Unfeeling?

Patrician? Yes. Cool? Yes. Cold and aloof? I don't really see it, personally.

Teena Mulder is often described as being the cold hearted, abusive Mulder mother who hates Scully (NO clue where people get this from, but that is another page entirely ;) , and quietly despises her son. That's when she isn't falling down drunk or popping pills faster than Mick Jagger on a tour bus.

I'm just not convinced. There are some people who simply don't feel comfortable showing a lot of outward emotion, and maybe Teena is one of those people. I know people in my personal life who may be thrilled, angry, sad, etc., but you'd never know it to look at them. They just aren't big on showing a ton of emotion outwardly.

There is also the fact that Teena Mulder has been through an awful lot of just plain nastiness in her life, and keeping her emotions to herself may be a way of protecting herself from further hurt. I mean, when you look at everything that has happened to her, it's not surprising that she keeps a bit of an emotional wall between herself and others. She has likely felt vulnerable on more than one occasion, and it caused her quite a bit of suffering in the long run. I don't blame her for being guarded.

It is also quite possible that a woman of Teena's social standing, and possibly even her upbringing, is not accustomed to public showings of intense emotion. People in her particular circle may very well frown on outrageous, loud shows of emotion, and she would be expected to keep her emotions hidden inside herself (particularly while in a public setting). She seems stoic because she is strong, and is not able to express a lot of emotion while she is out and about.

Teena's controlled emotions and adherence social duty can be seen here in a clip from Blessing Way.

However she feels about her ex-husband, the fact is that Teena is at Bill's funeral. She is there representing her children, and (despite her anger) to pay her respects to a man who was an integral part of her life at one point in time. We also see that WMM is there, and one can't help but wonder just how much of that service was made up of Syndicate members and their wives.

All that said, her reaction to hearing that Mulder is all right (based on her conversation with Scully) shows pretty clearly that she is not unfeeling after all. In fact, she is surprised and obviously happy at the news. She just doesn't show it outwardly very easily.

Now compare her public reaction to hearing that Mulder is all right vs. her private reaction when she actually sees him standing in Bill's foyer. HUGE difference.

Also important to note is CSM speaking to the alien bounty hunter about Mulder potentially losing his mother:

CSM and Teena MulderWith all of the knowledge that CSM seems to have (and probably a lot of experience tapping phones and other communications), it is entirely possible that he knows just how much Teena means to her son, and how close the two of them are. He knows that Teena means a lot to her son, and he doesn't want to risk Mulder turning into a martyr for the sake of his mum. Yes, you could argue that CSM is using this Young Teena CSMexcuse as a means of saving Teena without suspicion being cast on himself, which would also be adorable, and would totally support the fact that there is still some love shared by CSM and Teena (as discussed in the Fidelity section)! ;)

Well, there you have it! Thanks for sticking with me through this entire page, and I hope you enjoyed this presentation of "In Defense of Teena Mulder!" :)