Previously on The X-Files, “My Struggle III”
After last week’s convoluted premiere that turned the core of X-Files mythology on its head, Special Agents Mulder and Scully had to put the search for William on the back burner for a wild and crazy adventure involving grody hitmen, Russian mercs, NSA programs, Whole Brain Emulation, Skinner being Skinner and the return (of sorts) of an old ally no one expected to see again. In other words, it was a refreshing episode that confidently struck that eccentric beat we loved during the show’s original run.
Written and directed by Glen Morgan (who co-wrote with James Wong some of the series’ more popular episodes like “Squeeze”, “Tooms” and “Home”), the second installment in The X-Files’ abridged eleventh season hearkened back to the show’s successful fusion of dark humor, eccentric characters, and ostentatious conspiracies conducted by the darkest corners of the U.S. government. While the premiere lacked some of the qualities that enthralled millions every Sunday night for nine years, “This” provided it in heaps, thanks chiefly by the return of Dean Haglund as the shaggy haired Ramones-loving Lone Gunman, Richard “Ringo” Langly.
After all the frantic crisscrossing that occurred in “My Struggle III”, Mulder and Scully were finally able to enjoy a quiet night in Fox’s cabin… until a trio of oddballs armed to the teeth stormed their way through their humble confines. All would have been lost if it weren’t for an unexpected message from a digitized Langly; in fact, it was his presence within Mulder’s smartphone that prompted the kooky assassins-to-be – and their backup in the form of a squad of international mercenaries – to invade Dana and Fox’s home.
So… isn’t Langly dead? Yes and no. He, Byers and Frohike did upload in the Great Cloud in the Sky after they sacrificed their lives to prevent a bioterrorist from spreading a weaponized virus in the ninth season’s “Jump the Shark”. Although the Gunmen are no longer with us, “This” gave Langly’s backstory a slight retcon, remarking that he and his paramour Dr. Karah Hamby (Sandrine Holt) had their consciousness copied for posterity, and once deceased the digital versions of themselves would be activated and thrive within a virtual heaven among other geniuses and luminaries. Unfortunately, this simulacrum was being abused by the newly revealed faction of conspirators led by Erika Price (Barbara Hershey), who intended to exploit the superior acumen of the dead as slave labor, forcibly creating advanced technologies for her and Mr. Y’s spacefaring machinations.
Thanks to Langly, Fox and Dana are hastily thrown into this new rabbit hole and require access to the X-Files once more. Given how the FBI had restricted their access and the latest shadow government has them in their sights, the duo believe they’ll have to jump through a number of hoops to snag the necessary files. But nope! Skinner, who somehow continues to be the reluctant patsy of bad folks, reveals the X-Files are now PDFs in a cloud free for every agency to access, though some data has been redacted or removed outright. While there were a few fish-out-of-water moments since the reboot began last year, none felt genuinely humorous as this segment when Fox and Dana realize life has become far too convenient thanks to society’s reliance on technology, especially the internet.
Delightedly, Morgan was able to infuse brief flashes of humor in some of more somber moments of the episode; though it played a bit on Mulder and Scully’s supposed “outmoded” way of thinking in this brave new world, they constantly remain effective as disruptors in the latest of a long line multifarious schemes that intend to sway the evolution of humanity. While Dana and Fox attained greater insight in the contemporary offshoot of The Syndicate and the depths of their influence in the government, they realize this cabal may be far more sinister than their predecessors.
The X-Files S11E2 Review Score
The X-Files – S11E2 – This | David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, Barbara Hershey | Writer and Director: Glen Morgan