Season 10, Episode 1
AIR DATE: January 24, 2016
“[The X-Files have been closed]…for better or worse. We’ve…moved on with our lives.”
— Dr. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson)
It’s been over a decade since The X-Files graced our TV screens and nearly a decade since showrunner Chris Carter tried to get us all off his back by pitting FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully (David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, respectively) against European organ smugglers in 2008’s The X-Files: I Want to Believe, ending the film with Mulder and Scully on their way to a remote island for some much-needed vacation.
With their luck, they’d end up battling smoke monsters and hiding from islanders in ratty clothing.
FOX has re-booted The X-Files much to the squealing delight of the oldest of the old school fanboys. Yep, that X-Files. The one with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson and that one FBI Boss dude with the glasses who “got the most fan mail” because he’s bald and manly with those football shoulders…where was I…?
The opener (entitled “My Struggle”) finds Mulder and Scully separated and fatigued, no longer living their dream life of Unabomber Chic seclusion in the middle of the mountains. While she works at the Cure de Christ Hospital from the last film, Mulder has gone from moping over monsters to…well…moping over monsters. “UFOs are a punchline,” he laments as we’re subjected to YouTube’s finest fake UFO footage made by armchair digital artists who should have been doing the effects for this show. We’re in a new era, Duchovny tells us. One where Adobe After Effects is an accomplice of the enemies of truth.
Who do Mulder and Scully turn to? Why, the great Tad O’Malley (guest star Joel McHale), a conspiracy theorist a’la Alex Jones and Glenn Beck who’s so over the top, he nearly makes the aforementioned look sane. O’Malley has uncovered a grand conspiracy “in the works since 9/11” which was, in his opinion “a warm-up for World War III.” Alien abductions are just part of this conspiracy. In fact, so are UFOs. None of what Mulder and Scully have seen or done in the last nine seasons and two movies has been “the truth”.
So what is the truth?
Who knows anymore? Mulder does. He buys O’Malley’s goofballery after O’Malley shows him a crew of scientists working on an “ARV”. What’s an “ARV”? “An Alien Replica Vehicle”. They’re vehicles built by the military utilizing technology found aboard the only real UFO ever recovered: the flying saucer at Roswell. “Well, wait, Matt,” you’re saying. “I’m confused. If UFOs are a giant hoax, how was Roswell real? As it turns out, aliens are just nice beings who have been trying to warn us not to kill ourselves. So they sent ships in to just kinda hover around and not do much. One crashed. And we built a ship using its energy and murdered all the aliens who warned us not to kill. This is all, of course, the complete opposite of the first nine seasons when we had hostile black goo and alien rebels and aliens intent on colonizing the planet and killing us all.
So, now we have this alien Ferrari that O’Malley just helps hoard instead of, I dunno, contacting all members of the press to expose the project.
What does Scully think? She thinks O’Malley’s insane and that his ideas “border on treason”. That is, when she’s not succumbing to O’Malley’s creepy (and frankly, unbelievable) attempts to get into her panties.
The first episode of the much-vaunted re-boot of The X-Files is frustrating. On the one hand, Duchovny and Anderson continue to have a warm, welcoming chemistry that shows no signs of ever dissipating, as aged and tired as they look. There are moments that really work. The “what you thought was real wasn’t real” storyline (as irritating as it is; Chris Carter’s asking a lot of viewers to dump much of their investment in the last decade of what’s been presented to them) is actually intriguing and, if the show manages to find new fans, gives us something to chew on for the future. On the other hand, the episode feels routine and by-the-book, bogged down by needless expository monologues written by and for the InfoWars mindset.
Granted, that’s the fringe element this show helped build and continues to wallow in. The problem the show noticeably suffers from is what Mulder hopelessly points out: the fringe is considered a laughing-stock and is, at times, viewed with a hostile level of scorn and derision. It’s hard to take any of what we’re saying seriously. Fox Mulder was always noble. We identified with his plight because what he was doing was born out of love, so it’s both confusing and unfortunate that the show portrays Glenn Beck types the same way.
Call me crazy, but I like my conspiracies served up classy, not lumped in with “the guvernmint is gonna take yer gunz!”