Starring: Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny, Mitch Pileggi, Joel McHale, Annet Mahendru, Jonathan Whitesell, Megan Peta Hill, William B. Davis | Directors: Chris Carter & James Wong
Welcome back. We’ve missed you.
Ten seasons, one feature and one really weird sequel later, FOX has brought back one of the most enduring and seminal programs in television history for a six-episode “event series”, carrying on the exploits of everyone’s favorite supernatural investigators, Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. Seeing as the invasion never occurred in 2012 as forewarned, the new series certainly has a lot of explaining to do.
The pilot begins in 1947… a doctor and boorish looking agent travel to Roswell to inspect and collect any materials from a downed UFO. Fortunately, its pilot survived. Unfortunately, it was killed on the spot and likely resembled a juicier version of the game Operation hours later. Hinted during these flashbacks and throughout “My Struggle”, the fiendish extraterrestrial plot Mulder and Scully attempted to quash for ten years may be far more complicated than they know.
Returning to present day, Assistant Director Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) contacts Dr. Scully (Gillian Anderson) who – at Skinner’s request – kicks over a rock and pulls her former associate/estranged lover Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) out from the shadows. Their presence has been demanded by an extremely derisive character named Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale) who for all intents and purposes, is a slick, smarmy, egotistical neo-con huckster that spoon feeds heaps of fear and paranoia to the masses on a daily basis.
Thankfully for Tad, his political bloviations pay the bills and then some, granting him the ability to pursue his true calling: exposing the decades-old global “alien” conspiracy that’s systematically and irreversibly priming humanity for absolute domination. OF COURSE. O’Malley proves to Mulder that he’s a bona fide believer despite his veneer of rapacious conservatism. Fox’s skepticism towards Tad’s motives slowly fades after acquainting the duo with Sveta (Annet Mahendru), a multiple abductee who claims to have been impregnated numerous times to produce alien hybrids. But wait, there’s more! O’Malley delivers Mulder to the motherlode: a fully functional ARV (alien replicant vehicle) that meticulously resembles the craft seen in Deep Throat.
While Tad appears to have restored the zeal that has been lacking in Mulder’s life the last couple years, Scully worries for her erstwhile paramour despite their rocky relationship. There were a number of easter eggs and references to the show’s original run (The pencils are still there! How did they stay up there for 14 years? Cue Giorgio.) For all the brief flips through their memorable (and most frightening) files in the opening, the tattered poster in the office, and hopefully a single heartfelt mention of Queequeg on the horizon, The X-Files’ most gratifying lure for nearly a decade was Scully and Mulder’s apparently unyielding bond. Though many X-Philes wanted to ‘ship the pair from nearly the beginning, theirs was a relationship that wasn’t always suited for romantic endeavors, as evidenced by Scully’s hesitation to examine the unexplainable yet again.
Whereas everyone appeared to have moved on for the better, Mulder remains the odd man out. Still willing to bare the burden for all in hopes that he’ll one day reveal the truth to the world, Mulder’s seemingly selfless act has been anything but to his nearest and dearest. Scully has long removed herself from her days of implants, cults, creatures, unearthing UFOs in Africa and giving birth to the alleged alien messiah. Skinner appears to be surlier than ever yet happy to be free of nanotechnology. What has Mulder’s quest for the truth gotten him? A hovel just outside city limits where he can continue to scour the internet for any scrap of data that could validate his outlandish theories. The man is smart, however his solitary existence has turned him into a shell of the crusader shadow organizations once held in great contempt and respect.
Once Tad rolls into his life from the comforts of a bulletproof limousine, providing mountains of evidence and tangible proof that The Conspiracy was real and persists, Fox haphazardly places all his faith in O’Malley’s apocalyptic proclamations. Oh yeah, there’s also the revelation that EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT THE X-FILES IS POOP. If one were to believe Tad, aliens do exist but they aren’t responsible for the last 70 years of abductions, mutilations and obesity epidemics… we are.
Does Mulder care that his world was just flipped upside down? Nah, a treacherous global collusion is a treacherous global collusion! Unfortunately for them, Mulder and O’Malley’s plan to save the world from total subjugation turned into a smoldering pile before they could say Travis Walton.
Now that the entire history of The X-Files has been laid to waste AND the new organization easily managed to defame O’Malley and eliminate his evidence in five minutes, Scully and Mulder reset the clock and are given the unenviable responsibility of solving the X-Files.
Unlike the pilot episode that acted like a soft reboot, “Founder’s Mutation” goes back to basics and features classic Mulder and Scully resorting to old school (read: not necessarily legal) investigative tactics so as to learn why a scientist needed to clear his head at work with a letter opener. Naturally, a conspiracy is afoot which is hastily unraveled to expose a reclusive doctor’s malevolent scheme to alter the genetic structure of children… including his own son and daughter.
Compared to “Struggle”, the storyline was far less preachy and more straightforward in “Mutation” as its bones resembled a murder mystery rather than a far-reaching conspiracy thriller. After the whiz bang action and confounding revelations in the premiere, the second episode was a greatly appreciated respite before Mulder and Scully jump once more into the sinister underbelly of The Syndicate (or whatever name they’re going by in 2016) for the remainder of the event series. The addition of Kyle and Molly (Jonathan Whitesell and Megan Peta Hill) adds that extra dynamic of preternatural terror associated with the unknown. Moreover, they also provide an infusion of youth the series sorely needs. Yes, viewers are quite welcome to see Mulder, Scully and Skinner back in action. Yet the three surely cannot be the only functioning members of the FBI. At very least the telekinetic siblings will likely provide an intimidating presence for the agents and The Organization alike.
Fourteen years after its finale, The X-Files has proven it still has its legs albeit they’re a bit shaky. Rather than play hip to the times, the series so far has used its senescence to prove the old ways are the most reliable ways. The story has remained relatively the same but why potentially ruin a good thing? History has always proven that it likes to repeat itself; thankfully the show’s original players are here to regale audiences once again with this continuation. Four episodes remain and many questions have already sprung forth during the new run and a critical few from the original series have reemerged.
After all the pain and anguish Fox and Dana have suffered the last 23 years, will their journey to the truth finally be validated?
We want to believe.
The X-Files S10E1/E2
Bringing back The X-Files is a bit of a double-edged sword. Although everyone is back for an extremely limited run, will it have the same chemistry as before? What can be accomplished in six episodes? Will the new run sully our heightened nostalgia for a show that caused many of us to sleep with the lights on Sunday nights? So far, so good!
After the brief feeling of betrayal for learning humans are mainly responsible for the alien conspiracy instead of extraterrestrials aiming to conquer us, it’s an understandable adjustment to the overall storyline. Surely if beings from beyond our planet were going to take over, they would have well before December 21 2012. That doesn’t mean Tooms, Flukeman, the Beggar Man and the Soul-Eater never existed, although many of us wish they didn’t in our imaginations. Man, those were great episodes…
If anything, Duchovny and Anderson still got “it”, and their presence in this event attests to their belief in Chris Carter and his writers’ vision for the agents. Surely it’ll be a damn interesting ride this time around.