When watching a show you get involved with the story and characters. You understand them, you grow with them, and you feel what they feel. You follow along on their adventures are surprised, disappointed, and amazed.
This affair has to come to an end at some point. Sometime abruptly when a show gets canceled, or a story has run its course, or sometimes it has nothing to do with the story it has to do with the actors who just want out. Either way it ends, the credits on the final episode roll past on the screen, and you are suddenly left with a whole in you heart and in your viewing.
With shows that are particularly loved, many people wish to know more; beg for it to come back just to spend a little more time with those characters that they have fallen in love with. They just want to see how they are doing, was it really happily ever after, did that guy really die? For many they will never know but for the lucky few they get what they asked for.
For me that show was The X-Files. For years I just wanted to follow up on what Mulder and Scully had been doing, what conspiracy are they uncovering, what banter they are partaking in. Sure we got that second movie, X-Files: I Want To Believe, which was like a long episode of the show but gave few answers to many questions that were never answered. I must admit though I kind of squealed when Mulder rolled over in bed and was all crazy-man-bearded.
This year my wish, and that of many others, was answered with 6 episodes airing weekly on Fox. This had me very excited and a little weary at the same time. Things often go wrong when a show is brought back but this was The X-Files, I was going to watch it no matter what.
Before the show even started some aspects on what to expect were revealed. There was going to be 2 mythology episodes, 4 monster-of-the-week episodes, and episodes written by classic episode writers like Darin Morgan, James Wong, and Glen Morgan. This so far sounds great. Then I heard Mitch Pileggi aka Walter Skinner was coming back and so was William B. Davis aka CGB Spender aka Cigarette Smoking Man aka Cancer Man. This latter appearance confused me as it made no sense since this was a character that had brain surgery, developed cancer, was wheelchair bound and thrown down a flight of stairs, and lastly blow up in a missile strike. My mind started to speculate, I had to stop reading rumours and ignored trailers as I wanted to go into this with fresh eyes.
So I sat down in front of the television on Jan 24, 2016 to rekindle my relationship with these characters and this show. But football was on. Oh the nerd rage! It wasn’t just from me, but from many who were anticipating this premiere. We had all been waiting almost 14 years for this and 20 more minutes was almost too much to ask. I sat there hate watching the football after show that had no reason to be on not wanting to miss even a second of the show.
And then the show began. The cold open was of Mulder recapping his side of the story from the series, flipping pictures narrating in his classic monotone voice. Then there were men in uniform, a crash, confused faces, and then, the true beginning, the opening credits and theme. I hadn’t realized I was holding my breath the until those first notes of the theme played. I was kind of fearful that they would have done something to opening of the show. But hearing that music and seeing those images were comforting preparing me for intrigue, clever banter, and adventure.
The episode, sadly, was a disappointment. Written and directed by Chris Carter it was…sloppy, overdone, and just bad. Using the character Tad O’Malley, a pundit played by Joel McHale, as a catalyst, Mulder and Scully are pulled back into the world of alien conspiracy. Gillian Anderson seemed to have forgotten what Scully sounds like or maybe Scully started smoking a pack a day, the story was rushed where many aspects seemed random or arbitrary, and there was just too much given without effort. One thing this show used to be good at was building suspense by only giving bits and pieces building to a reveal. This episode everything was just there, no one had to work for it, there was no build up. It was shown to us then everyone just talked it out. One review called Chris Carter the George Lucas of TV; suddenly having too much money and ruining what they had before. And it is true. The intrigue that was cultivated on the show had a lot to do with budgets. They had to pull back on things because they couldn’t afford to do otherwise. With this they had the money to just do all the things. But doing all the things doesn’t necessarily make it better and in this case it really didn’t. The writing was also very clumsy. Yes, Mulder and Scully had separated but their banter was based on intellect. Whether they hate or love each other their conversations would be scintillating. Mulder seemed too up for yelling at the drop of a hat. No, he has never really been stable but he seemed farther off kilter than he should be. At the end of the episode there was a very brief, menacing appearance by The Cigarette Smoking Man making a call to someone unknown, informing them that the X-Files had been reopened. The story started off promising but it kind of just fell apart by the end. The episode was over and my worst fears were coming though.
I didn’t have to wait long until the next episode. The next day at 8pm I sat in front the television anxiously waiting for the episode to begin. Maybe that first episode was an anomaly and it would only be up hill from there. Luckily the show began on time and I wouldn’t have to wait to find out. The episode was better but not great or good. It was just fine. It is one of the episodes from the original series that you forget about. There isn’t anything wrong with it but it isn’t memorable. It fit into the realm of a monster of the week episode. There was actually an investigation, they did some stuff, and things happened. But again the writing seemed flat and the actors seemed kind of bored. There was a progression though; the story was better and they seemed to be falling back into stride.
I had to wait a full week for the next episode. This was one I was highly anticipating. It was written by Darin Morgan, the person who had written, hands down, the best episodes of the show – Humbug, Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose, War of the Coprophages (which apparently he hates), and Jose Chung’s From Outer Space – and also stared in one of the more memorable ones – Small Potatoes – as well. These are all episodes that were included on my listicle last month. Because of this, my expectations were very high a little too high I might think. It was classic Morgan, it sort of flipped how our world is viewed. It points you in one direction only to spin you around and push you the other way. There were a lot of Easter eggs and self references if you were quick to spot them; The stoners, the red Speedo, Scully’s immortality, tributes to both Kim Manners and Jack Hardy who passed away, being a bit meta by playing the show theme in the show, and even back to Moby Dick references. It was funny, self aware, and flat out strange. Really, it was what you would expect. But somehow it just didn’t work for me. It seemed lost and kind of trying. At least it was an uphill movement as it was better than the previous episodes.
Another week til episode 4. My fears were subsiding as the episodes just seem to be getting better. They were just revving up, they needed a little time to get into the swing of things. Home Again (which sadly had nothing to do with the Peacocks) began dark, mysterious, and bloody. An investigation ensued, there was an autopsy, and some running around. There was also a character building thread as Scully suffers a personal tragedy when her mother dies. It brings up thoughts of family, the child she gave up, and the life she could have had. The thing I found most interesting about the episode was not the mystery they were trying to solve but Mulder and Scully’s vision of the life they could (possibly should) have had. It was very normal, spending time with William, taking him to school and building a rocket. What struck me the most about it is that they weren’t in each other’s……fantasy. Why? Do they believe the only way they could be happy, even with their child, is if the other wasn’t there? Did they not believe they would have ended up together anyways? Or was this fantasy just to do with the child and it is supposed to be implied that the other person is just in the next room? Sure the episode was really about stopping a garbage monster that was retaliating against self-serving people and saving the homeless, but this character insight blew my mind. It was a good episode even though the switching back and forth between story lines could have been a little less clumsy.
The next week was episode 5. The new season was finally getting better and it was already so close to the end. What would the penultimate episode of this season be about? Well, it started off kind of racist. Yeah, I said it. I know terrorism is a hot button topic but that doesn’t mean it has to be part of the show. The X-Files has had a problem with trying to spotlight specific cultures, it just never works out right. It either comes across as offensive or stupid. We were introduced to 2 new agents, Einstein and Miller (they just happen to be like Mulder and Scully both in appearance and mentality), who are the lead investigators on this terrorist attack and are trying to prevent another. One of the bombers has “survived” in a vegetative state and is unable to communicate. This leads Mulder and Scully to have vastly different idea on how to “talk” to this comatose patient. This was just the avenue to let Mulder trip balls, have a dance sequence, and have the two-thirds of the Loan Gunmen on the show. This was the most linear and well put together episodes.
On Monday, the final episode aired. It continued the story from the first. Mulder was missing, Tad O’Malley was back, and Scully and Agent Einstien were at the hospital verifying her alien DNA. At the hospital Scully saw a sick man with a rash and out of nowhere it was Antrax and she knew the whole plan. Suddenly Agent Reyes was back, telling of her dealing with CGB Spender over the last 10 years, and verifying Scully’s miraculous piecing together of a puzzle that 5 minutes before didn’t really exist. Sigh. Then Mulder was with Cancer Man, this turns out to be a plan to save the Earth by reducing the number of people, and without investigation or research Agent Miller clicks a button on Mulder’s desktop and finds him. Then suddenly Scully has created a vaccine and is racing to save Mulder. The episode was fast paced and tried its best to be intense but a lot of it was just out of left field. I was confused, bewildered, and I must had said, “Huh?” too many times. I don’t need shows to hold my hand but there were so many holes in the story with conclusions grabbed out of nowhere that it just didn’t make much sense.
Then there was the ending. WHAT. THE. HELL! I’m pretty sure that means that there are going to be more episodes of the show but what story are they going to tell? Did Mulder, Scully, and Miller survive? Are they going to find William? Is the show now going to follow Agents Eisenstein and Miller? Whatever they do I just have to say, that was a bullshit ending.
In the end it was nice to see Mulder, Scully, and a few familiar faces back even though it was just for a little while but it was a disappointment. I don’t know what I was expecting from this mini-season of The X-Files but I do know this was not it.