The X-Files has been my favorite show since I was about 14. I’ve suffered from insomnia pretty much my whole life. They used to show reruns on TNT all night, so I’d just watch until I was finally able to fall asleep. Episodes like Hollywood A.D. had me rolling on the floor with laughter, while mythology episodes like Memento Mori left my brain racked with possibilities of a conspiracies and aliens.
Needless to say, when I heard the show was coming back, I was thrilled. Seasons 8 and 9 had skewed from the course, and the overall mysteries of the show were never wrapped up in any sort of satisfactory way. I thought Chris Carter would use the six episode miniseries as a way to correct past mistakes and give fans a cohesive alien/government syndicate story. Boy, was I ever wrong! Instead, Carter mangles The X-Files beyond recognition. Instead of clarifying his previous ideas, he adds he even more layers to the mythology. Now fans are left waddling in a stew of 9/11 truther propaganda, anti-vaccine babble, and chem trails.
The first episode of the season, My Struggle, attempts to cram in a whole season’s worth of ideas into 45 minutes. The result is a messy parody of a real X-files episode. Mulder’s beliefs rock back and forth so many times during this episode, that I thought I’d get whiplash. Scully just seems content to sit back and go for the ride. Still, I held out hope. The next four episodes are monster of the week shows, which I’ll get to in a minute. First, I want to address the chaotic, cliffhanger trainwreck that is My Struggle Part II. Keep in mind people, this may be the last episode of The X-Files we ever see. This was the one that was supposed to contain answers. Instead, I was left with no less than 50 new questions. Why was everyone injected with alien DNA? How does that help the Syndicate? Who the hell is even in the Syndicate, besides CSM? What do chem trails have to do with anything?
Setting the conspiracy aside, I was also hoping for some closure regarding Mulder and Scully. They spent the whole season contemplating their choices regarding William. I was expecting to see something happen there, but I guess it turned out to be just another empty plot point. What about their relationship with each other? Are they back together? Are they going to get back together? They barely had two minutes of shared screen time during the finale.
Despite, both parts of My Struggle being a complete waste, neither episode was actually the worst of the six. No, that title goes to Babylon. Babylon uses the Charlie Hebdo attacks as its launching pad. Two young agents seek Mulder and Scully’s help with communicating with the terrorist, who is in a coma. Agents Miller and Einstein are more or less younger versions of Mulder and Scully. The characters are fun, I liked seeing how our heroes would interact with mirror versions of themselves, but they needed to make their appearance in a different episode. The serious nature of the case seems incongruent with the wacky nature of the two new agents. The most WTF moment of the episode occurs when Mulder, under the influence of a placebo or maybe God hallucinates a whole scene of Country dancing. I’m as confused as you are. The mood abruptly shifts and he’s naked and standing in some sort of dark Biblical scene. During this scene, the information Mulder needs to stop the terrorist attack is passed on to him. The final scene of the episode between Mulder and Scully is cute. It’s nice to see them expressing affection, but I could’ve just watched it on mute. As they ponder the conclusions they reached during the case, it’s clear that there is no discernable lesson or theme to be found.
Although, most of the season was a mess, it did have some high points. My favorite episode is Mulder & Scully Meet The Were-Monster. It had all of the comedy and charm of classic monster of the week episodes like Humbug and How the Ghosts Stole Christmas. The episode revolves around Mulder trying to rediscover his belief in the paranormal while hunting a giant lizard monster. He comes to learn that the monster is not a man that turns into a monster, but rather a monster that turns into a man. The only goal the monster has is to permanently return to his lizard form. This episode was the most lighthearted, but it may also be the most philosophical of the season. There were many great moments in this one, including Scully referring to Mulder as, “My Mulder” and the lizard man fabricating a sexual encounter with Scully. (Bonus Fact: Die hard X-Philes will notice the tribute to the show’s late Director/Producer Kim Manners. His name is on a tombstone during the scene in the cemetery.)
As for the other two episodes, both were solid monster of the week shows. Founder’s Mutation follows Mulder and Scully as they investigate a strange suicide that appears to be linked to a company that runs genetic experiments on children, giving them alien DNA. The case forces Mulder and Scully to examine their own choices as parents. The best part of Founder’s Mutation is that it shows what Mulder and Scully’s lives might have been like if they had raised William.
Home Again is a more serious version of season 7’s Arcadia. Both episodes are about surburbanites who are forced to confront issues they’d rather keep buried. Both are about tulpas, which are creatures created from a strong belief in their existence. Both tulpas are made of literal garbage. The thing that makes Home Again unique, is that the creature was originally conceived by a street artist. His image will show up on a wall, and then it’s gone in the blink of an eye. Through their investigation our dynamic duo discovers that a street artist conceived the monster as an art piece to represent the homeless population, but its power grew, and soon the creator was helpless to stop it. In addition to the case file, this episode also deals with the death of Scully’s mother and her feelings of failure regarding William. Overall, I felt Home Again presented an oversimplified view of gentrification and poverty, but I can overlook that. This modern day version of Frankenstein is fresh, and will be a favorite of fans who enjoyed episodes like Squeeze and Home.
While there were a couple great episodes in the revival, it felt a lot like digging through a mountain of rat feces to find a few pieces of gold. I had such high hopes, they were curbstomped. I’m already hearing about a possible season 11. Truth is, I’m scared it will come back, but I’m also scared it won’t. I have to wonder how invested Carter is in The X-Files if he didn’t see fit to even give it an ending. I can’t help but liken him to the artist in Home Again. He created something, it spun out of his control, and now he’s running for the hills. I want to believe. I’ll always want to, but I just can’t anymore.