“Are we truly alone or are we being lied to?” – The X-Files S10 Review

The X-Files

The truth is still out there!

Now before I get into what is going to be an in-depth and comprehensive review, this post will contain MAJOR SPOILERS.  So if you’re not up to date, you have been warned.  Bookmark and save for later.

But is the truth worth it?  All I know is that it’s great to have Mulder and Scully back on our screens again.

You can imagine my excitement when it was announced a new series of The X-Files was in production.  Suddenly my 90s obsession that became my sci-fi inspiration was back in the mainstream.  But how would it fare in today’s world?  The X-Files was the pinnacle of the 90s, tapping into a paranoia that was scary yet thought-provoking.  It asked intelligent questions on whether we’re alone in the universe and the government’s attempt to conceal that truth.  It was groundbreaking with each episode revealing mysteries that led to bigger questions, leaving the audience to debate and theorise the implications.

It’s interesting watching the new X-Files in 2016.  The culture of TV has changed.  We’re no longer recording episodes on VHS tapes or logging onto a web forum that took 5 mins (if lucky) to load on a dial-up connection – just like it was back in my day.  Today we’re in control of how we watch TV and when we watch it.  We binge watch, consuming short stack episodes at an alarming rate.  Our large world has suddenly become smaller thanks to social media.  Like a meal we want instant gratification, to be easily satisfied and have all the answers on a plate.  Does the new series have the same appeal as it used to or does it fall into the trap of our modern TV habits?

Season 10 was far from perfect and at times had a flawed execution (something which I will highlight in this review).  But on the other hand, its been fun, each episode being a unique and experimental gift.  The writers take a big risk, doing something new and modern, moving the show into the 21st century.  I wasn’t expecting lightning in a bottle, hoping it would recapture the show at its peak best (Seasons 1-5) but I’m still amazed after a fourteen year absence from our screens that the show still manages to challenge our perceptions.

Time doesn’t stand still and the show ventures into a brave new world.

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“Roswell was just a smokescreen” – Old Man (My Struggle)

The Chris Carter penned and directed episode My Struggle, represents another change in the mythology.  After years of believing in aliens and the impending threat of an alien invasion and colonisation, My Struggle re-examines the mythology by now suggesting that the alien conspiracy was a misdirection.  The mythology now belongs to a conspiracy of men, using alien technology to bring about the destruction of the planet and usher in a new world order.

Some would say this is a massive 180 degree turn on nine seasons worth of television but the idea is not as far-fetched as many would believe.  The connections to the original series are there.  The change-up in the conspiracy in My Struggle is very reminiscent of Redux and Redux II.  In the season 5 two-parter, we are presented with an alternative view – what if the alien conspiracy is not real but a clever subterfuge of a highly organised military operation to carry out experiments on the general public.  Dressing it up as “alien” creates the doubt and the necessary cover to continue the project.  Scully became a first hand witness of this – she was abducted in Duane Barry and everything that has proceeded afterward is a consequence of that.  We’ve seen over the seasons where experimentation of alien DNA has been used to devastating effect.  The earliest comes in the episode The Erlenmeyer Flask, where it was in the form of “Purity Control”.  It resurfaces again in Red Museum where alien DNA was injected in meat for human consumption and young teenage kids.

This “conspiracy of men”, epitomized by characters such as the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) and the Well Manicured Man (John Neville), has always been around in the X-Files universe so it shouldn’t come as a surprise.  From episodes such as AnasaziPaper Clip, Nisei/731, Two Fathers/One Son, the human involvement gives evil a face, the show questioning (not answering) their power and authority to exercise their experimentations.  These experiments involved the use of tissue samples, small pox vaccinations, tagging and cataloguing as part of their human-alien hybridisation program.  Sometimes a humanistic angle is far more terrifying than believing something otherworldly because the threat is much closer to home, invading our comfort zone.  In the new X-Files reality, the strategic abandonment of our freedoms are at risk in sacrifice for the end game.

It’s an interesting change of direction.  Carter doesn’t quite abandon the alien theory but merely casts doubt whether every single thing can be attributed to them.  The title of the episode is an interesting choice.  While Carter refers to the title as inspiration from a series of autobiographical books by Karl Ove Knausgård, My Struggle is also the English translation of Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler’s famous book about his ideology and the future.  Suddenly the new X-Files world sounds foreboding and ominous.

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The episode also marks a change for Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson).  They are estranged, their relationship status deliberately kept ambiguous – “for better or for worse” (Carter you tease).  They may have respectively moved on, but the truth eventually comes back to haunt them, reunited by these turn of events.  Their reintroduction are done in a similar fashion to I Want to Believe but My Struggle presents a far more interesting version.  They’re still the same people we know and love.  Mulder still identifies with the victim as illustrated with Sveta (Annet Mahendru), a possible abductee and psychic who claims she’s been used and tested by the government.  Mulder still has his theories but he’s gone from a passionate truth seeker to a depressed and paranoid individual and recluse who desperately wants to believe in the truth again.  Scully, still sceptical as always has buried herself in her medical work, once again helping others who are less fortunate.  But there is a subtle difference in how the relationship is now depicted – Mulder and Scully have history and it shows.  They’re noticably older, their complicated relationship carrying the burden of their previous life.  As the truth gets stranger (alien DNA) and more personal (their child William), their opposing viewpoints and beliefs re-ignites their search for the truth.

Chris Carter still manages to capture the paranoia of our modern world or uses characters to reinforce it.  Mulder covers up his webcam with tape on his laptop.  Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale) has enough resources to bulletproof his limo or make comments on how open air conversations can be monitored by dirtboxes.  He is also the amalgamation of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and Fox News, hosting a youtube style news channel specifically to spread his own political agenda.  The old man, a medical doctor at the Roswell incident becomes the grandfather of alien genetics.  His work being complicit and used for ulterior means, echoing how scientists debated the ethical use on the creation of the atom bomb during the Manhattan project back in the 1930s.  The ARV or Alien Replica Vehicle also bares a similar resemblance to the one Mulder witnessed back in Deep Throat – only he can’t remember it, his memories were taken away from him.

However, it’s Scully voice that becomes important, especially if you are sceptical about the information.  When O’Malley and Mulder deliver an epic truth bomb on how the world is at mercy to this new threat, it’s her viewpoint that becomes the voice of reason.  She presents the alternative and questions the logic, just like she’s always done.

In a strange turn of events, My Struggle represents The X-Files at its most cinematic in comparison to the criticisms of I Want to Believe.  The pre-credit sequence of the UFO crash at Roswell keeps the tradition of the show making “a mini-movie” every week.

The one criticism I would give it is that the episode should have been a little longer, breaking the mould of the 43 minute cycle that the original series was used to.  The episode hits the ground running which is a good thing, not wasting too much time on exposition and set up.  But a lot of the information presented in My Struggle can easily go over someone’s head and in this limited run of episodes, it would have benefited from more time.  Thankfully the episode plays better on repeated viewings.  It also feels amongst the tightly paced episode that scenes/moments were removed, maybe for time or to create further ambiguity.  Where was the kiss scene between Mulder and Scully when they were reunited?  Why would Scully would be riding in the limo with O’Malley when the real hotline bling is with Mulder?  What’s the incentive for her?  Is she just entertaining him, trying to find out whether O’Malley can be trusted?  He seems to know a lot about The X-Files division.  The moment doesn’t have to be melodramatic but would have been nice additions, given the natural gap in time.  And of course, given how the first episode reintroduced the complex mythology, it was always going to raise further questions than reveal answers.

The most important thing that My Struggle establishes is that Mulder and Scully are back and it was like they never left, largely due to the brilliant chemistry between Duchovny and Anderson.  The use of the original opening credits along with Mitch Pileggi’s inclusion was a massive thumbs up.

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“You’re never just anything to me Scully.” – Fox Mulder (Founder’s Mutation)

If Chris Carter’s episode laid the difficult groundwork, then James Wong’s episode re-establishes the familiar and welcomed dynamic between Mulder and Scully.

The main standout in the episode is not the actual investigation itself but how the case mirrors Mulder and Scully’s personal connection to their son, William.  Mulder and Scully have daydream fantasies (not flashbacks as that would imply that it actually happened), both imagining what their life would be like if they had raised their child.  From their emotional viewpoints we get glimpses into their own psychology.  Scully saw herself as a protector, being there for William when he needed help or support.  Mulder saw himself as someone providing wisdom and encouragement.  Both of their fantasies start off as bright, happy and beautiful but it quickly turns on them, playing on their parental fears.  Scully fears William will transform into an alien whereas Mulder fears his son would be abducted, just like his sister Samantha.

It’s a family tragedy with Mulder and Scully.  These honest reflections completely vindicates their inclusion in S10.  Whether you’re a fan of it or not, S9 handled the William storyline clumsily.  The S9 finale The Truth, robbed us of a potential and emotional scene between Mulder and Scully on the revelation that William was given up for adoption (Skinner told Mulder before Scully could).  In Founder’s Mutation, that decision and consequence is tackled head on and thankfully the series doesn’t pretend that part of the canon doesn’t exist.  Scully’s fantasy comes as expected, given her expressed guilt throughout the episode but it was Mulder’s fantasy that was gut-wrenching.  His feelings almost hidden as if he was telling lies to himself.  It’s a complete opposite from what he told Scully earlier, almost refusing to go to the same emotional place Scully was.  Yet he was deeply affected.  The camera pulls back to reveal him sitting alone, staring at a picture of his son.

The saddest part?  They can never get that time back, even if they found him.  Furthermore, they didn’t envision each other in their idyllic fantasy.

It shouldn’t be a coincidence that Founder’s Mutation refers to two classic sci-fi films in Escape from the Planet of the Apes and 2001: A Space Odyssey because they both deal with the nature of evolution. Funnily enough this is not the first time Planet of the Apes has been referenced in The X-Files.  In The War of the Coprophages, the reference is thrown into conversations about destiny and not liking what you might find.  In 2016, it comes full circle.

In Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Cornelius (Roddy McDowall) and Zira (Kim Hunter) travel to present day Earth.  To the shock of the world, the apes can talk, a complete role reversal of what George Taylor (Charlton Heston) experienced in the original film.  They’re quickly accepted by society until Zira becomes pregnant.  Suddenly society can’t accept them, feeling their child is a threat to humanity and the future existence of the world.  In order to keep their newborn child safe, the baby is given up for adoption, leading to grave and permanent consequences for Cornelius and Zira.  Sounds like a familiar story right?  Besides the original film and the brilliant Andy Serkis reboots, Escape from Planet of the Apes is the one film from the original franchise that struck a chord with me and as soon as it was referenced on the show, I instantly got the significance.  The same goes for 2001: A Space Odyssey – Mulder talks to his son about the monolith, strange black slabs in which there’s no concrete explanation for its existence.  It’s a sweet scene encouraging his son to come up with his own truth.  William’s truth and fascination belongs in the exploration of space as he builds a rocket spaceship with his father.

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Founder’s Mutation includes interesting parallels to the victims involved.  Scully identified herself with Agnes (Kacey Rohl – Abigail Hobbs from Hannibal), a young pregnant mother who fears what her child could be, refusing to give into the tests.  Mulder identifies himself in Kyle Gilligan (Jonathan Whitesell), a young, clearly gifted child who wants nothing but to be reunited with his sister.  By their brief interactions with Mulder and Scully, their simple yet effective story manages to strike a nerve.

But at least as parents, Mulder and Scully showed how much they still care about their child, especially when you compare their history to the actions of Dr. Augustus Goldman (Doug Savant). He’s viewed as a “true champion of the unborn” but that’s barely scratching the surface.  Underneath that wafer-thin praise, the children (who are viewed as the next step in evolution) are his property.  They’re kept behind sealed, glass walls, kept indoors for their “protection” from outside contaminants.  When Augustus was reunited with his son Kyle, all he was interested in was his blood and not his overall well-being.  How can this happen?  Because of Dr. Goldman’s deep ties and funding from the DOD, allowing him to take unwanted children from pregnant mothers.  His lack of compassion just makes it easier for him to justify his research.

At least Scully and Mulder have a heart – Augustus Goldman does not possess one.

There was never any doubt that the show can still do scenes of genuine creepiness and weird, illustrated by four examples.  The first comes in the opening pre-credits where if you have an inaudible hearing problem, please don’t do what Sanjay did!  The second – the presence of birds is very Alfred Hitchcock.  The third comes from Goldman’s wife, Jackie (Rebecca Wisocky) as she recites her story on how she was institutionalized.  She mentions two connecting stories involving her children – her daughter Molly breathing underwater (with a smile on her face) in their backyard pool and her unborn son using infrasounds, a distinct audible sound wave that possesses her to cut her baby out of her stomach, self-caesarean style.  Despite her remarkable yet bizarre story, she has no hesitation on naming the monster – her husband.  The fourth belongs to what happened to Augustus Goldman, poetic justice for his actions.  Believe me, you can’t unsee that…

The episode hints at alien DNA being the source of the genetic transformations and manipulations, once again keeping tradition not only with what Carter set out in the first episode, but the experiments that were uncovered in the original series.

Just one thing though – it’s 2016 and Scully still doesn’t have a desk?

“Mulder the internet is no good for you.” – Dana Scully (Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster)

Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster is a real gem!  So good is this episode that not only is it the best episode of the series, but certainly one of the best comedic episodes The X-Files has ever produced.

A lot of fans will identify themselves with either the mythology or the monster of the week formula.  However people easily forget that The X-Files could do humour.  Episodes such as Bad Blood, Jose Chung’s From Outer Space, Humbug and Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose are examples of where the show took a light-hearted approach towards the unknown.  Coincidentally enough, three out of the four episodes I mentioned were all written by Darin Morgan!

Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster is a love letter to the hardcore fans.

In theory this episode shouldn’t work.  It’s an episode that lives in its own unique world.  Darin Morgan parodies the show’s existence on an extreme level, nitpicking and laying in Easter egg references that have become synonymous with the show’s history.  Just like the Were-Monster, Darin Morgan – the Shane Black of The X-Files world comes out of hibernation to tell a story so bold and imaginative that it had me laughing hysterically throughout.

So what makes this episode so delightfully funny?  The dialogue for one thing is sharp and witty, almost Scooby-Doo esque in its delivery.  Darin Morgan has a knack for taking something absurd and turning it into complete sense.  The banter between Mulder and Scully is on point – this is the best you’ll see David and Gillian having fun with their roles whilst hitting their stride.  The episode also serves as an ode to classic horror films with the full moon on display (a classic sign of transformation) and the creature itself looking like it was from a 1950s B movie.

The Easter egg/in-joke references are brilliant and I wish I could spend time listing them all out but it would probably take up the entire review!  Whether it’s the stoner couple (The War of the Coprophages & Quagmire), Mulder’s red speedos (Duane Barry), Guy Mann’s Kolchak the Night Stalker clothing (Chris Carter’s inspiration for The X-Files) or Scully stealing a dog called Dagoo (Moby Dick), the references are things that fans should pick up.  The best use of the Easter egg – when Mulder laid flowers in front of a grave for Kim Manners, director from the original series who passed away in 2009.

But beneath the comedic shell, Darin Morgan manages to convey a deeper meaning.  In all his episodes, his explorations are existential about humanity and the meaning of life.   In the character of Guy Mann (Rhys Darby), you have someone who’s not even the “monster”.  He’s actually the victim.  What a brilliant twist.

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This is not the first time that Darin has written his characters with a degree of sympathy.  In Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose, Clyde is a reluctant psychic.  His gift becomes a burden where he hates being right.  In Humbug, the opening teaser gave the impression that a “monster” was about to attack the kids in the swimming pool until it’s revealed it’s the father who’s also a sideshow performer.  In this particular episode, Guy Mann becomes a social commentary on life itself, exposing all the quirks and structures that drives us mad and he learns this by turning into a human (not by choice) and takes up human responsibilities.  He gets a job, learning the ability to BS his way through anything.  However he fears quitting his unsatisfactory job because how would pay the bills or start a mortgage.  He satisfies his feeding hunger by “murdering a cow” aka ordering a fast food meal from a drive-in.  He even goes as far to question the logic as to why you had to be in a car, just to order from a drive-in, a scene which left me in stitches.  When he felt lonely, he adopts a dog and named it Dagoo…that’s until the dog runs away.

It’s not a coincidence that Mulder becomes the focus in Darin’s episodes.  He pokes fun at the character, exploring Mulder’s fascination in the paranormal.  In the Were-Monster, we have an honest and different depiction.  Mulder is having a mid-life crisis.  He’s disheartened, wondering whether there’s any real monsters in the world.  It’s 2016 and most of the unexplained can be explained.  He questions the validity of his work, in the same fashion when he questioned the intentions of Jose Chung as he was about to fictionalized the events for his new book.  It was funny to see Mulder act so sceptical, shutting down every crime scene detail that Scully reports to him.  Usually it would be the other way round!  When Mulder encounters Guy, Guy’s story mirrors Mulder’s in a self-referencial and analytical way…except the part where Guy confesses to having sex with Scully, which Mulder categorically shuts down as complete nonsense.  Guy learns fast – as a human, we can’t help but lie about our sex lives!

But when Mulder does find his rhythm, we unanimously agree with Scully – “This is how I like my Mulder.”  It wouldn’t be The X-Files without Mulder’s enthusiasm for the unknown and it’s brilliantly illustrated in one epic monologue where he debates with himself every angle of the case and inserts Scully’s typical responses into the conversation.

What’s also brilliant to see throughout S10 is The X-Files embracing modern technology.  Carter uses it to highlight the paranoia in My Struggle.  In Founder’s Mutation, James Wong shows how fingerprint access and protection on mobile phones don’t mean squat if you’re dead and someone (like Mulder) can still access it.  In Mulder & Scully Meets the Were-Monster, seeing Mulder struggle to use his new camera app on his smartphone is genius, like asking someone from an older generation to send a text message.  In an era where we have sophisticated mobile devices, when Mulder thinks he has evidence, the picture is either blurry, or in the case of the video footage, filmed in the wrong POV.  First world problems of a technology minded generation!

But for an episode that feels so out of place, it still manages to keep within the thematic realms of S10.  “It’s easier to believe in monsters out there in the world, than to accept that the real monsters dwell within us.”

Mulder & Scully Meets the Were-Monster heavily deals with the idea of transformation.  Whether it’s a monster turning into a human or a human turning into a monster, it makes no difference, paralleled between Guy Mann and Pasha (XF fan and podcaster Kumail Nanjani).  Both characters try to conform to what they feel is their correct mental and physical state.

The episode ends with Mulder’s faith restored.  He sees Guy in his true form and Mulder’s childlike wonder brings a smile to his face.

Maybe Mulder’s life wasn’t a complete waste of time after all.

“But if you don’t see a problem, there’s no problem right?  People treat people like trash.” – Trashman (Home Again)

Written and directed by Glen Morgan, Home Again feels like a mixed bag.  It’s essentially two stories mashed together and personally, I would have liked it if it were separate.  But you know what, we can’t have it all our own way.  We have to live with what is presented.

If Mulder & Scully Meets the Were-Monster showcases the best of David Duchovny, then Home Again most certainly showcases the best of Gillian Anderson.  I would probably go as far to say that she deserves an award nomination for her performance.  Home Again is a Scully centric episode and keeping in the same vein as Beyond the Sea, Home and Never Again, the episode takes a personal and explorative look into her character.

From a personal point of view, the way Scully handles her mother’s death echoed mine.  Last year I lost my father and I too was left with a little mystery that can’t be solved.  The dead unfortunately take the answers to their graves and the grieving process becomes a personal test on yourself in order to find meaning, balance and the courage to move forward.

Scully’s reaction is uncharacteristic which is understandable given the circumstances.  Whilst being near her mother’s bedside, she discovers her mother (Sheila Larken) has a coin necklace which has no significance.  She watches her mother on life support which mimics her own experience back in One Breath.  Scully also has to handle a family dispute.  Her brother Bill is miles away in Germany and her brother Charlie is estranged from the family.  To make matters worse, Scully’s mother calls for Charlie instead of her and amended her will without notifying the family.  In a desperate attempt to bring the family unit together, she answers phone calls whilst watching another patient die and packed away for the morgue, like a foreshadowing grim reaper.  Even when a gun is pointed at her face, high on grief, guilt and self-reflection, she takes out the suspect in one sweeping and combative move without even thinking.

The episode has been criticised for being too referential in regards to William, especially as it was already addressed in Founder’s Mutation.  But there is a subtle difference between the two episodes.

In Founder’s Mutation, James Wong explores the nature of William and his existence, amplified by Mulder and Scully’s parental fears.  Did alien DNA create him?  Does he exhibit powers?  Is he suffering?  Is he one of Dr. Goldman’s “children”, hiding behind a glass wall as part of his experiments?  We’ve seen this type of questioning before.  In the opening of Essence, Mulder questions the possibility that Scully became pregnant by other means.  Was it God answering a prayer thus providing a miracle?  Was William a product of modern science and technology?  Or was it a “union of perfect opposites”.  Home Again doesn’t go down that route.  It explores Scully’s subconscious need to see her child again.  She repeatedly sees her son’s name flash up on her phone every time it rings.  Her mother’s dying last words were about her son.  You can’t have an out of sight, out of mind attitude as if you’re kicking dirt under a rug.  At some point, the band-aid must come off so that the scar can heal properly.

It’s sad that Scully would think that she treated her son like trash like the enforced line of dialogue suggests.  You gave your son up for his protection and safety.  Whilst that’s tragic but it’s not heartless.  You tried to give your son a normal life – how can anyone be blamed for that?  But on the other hand, it’s the way she opens up to Mulder about her feelings, something which she’s not known for.  In Home, she opens up to Mulder about her desire to become a mother.  In Never Again, after being told by Leonard Betts that she has cancer, Scully questions her life.  In Home Again, it’s Scully struggling with the decision of giving up William.  Scully will be there for Mulder for when he discovers the biggest mystery in the universe, but it’s the little mystery that needs to be solved.  She needs to find her son.  Without a doubt, the concluding moments of the episode most definitely struck a chord with me.  Duchovny, without even saying a word supports Anderson’s heartfelt delivery.

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Mulder and Scully have now become children without parents and parents without a child. That emotional essence grounds the story in reality.

Home Again provides a social context to the world we live in with the homeless getting the attention.  Right from the opening scene, they’re treated with a lack of respect.  They’re hosed down with water and forced to move from their location.  The people in authority have their own self-serving justification and it’s their lack of empathy and understanding that paints them as obvious targets.

The Band-Aid Nose Man continues the tradition of memorable horror monsters to feature in the show and once again, it’s designed to make you feel paranoid and genuinely creeped out.  The creature operates in a Frankenstein way by looking out for the homeless.  It appears out of a Banksy style artwork, sort of like how Vigo appeared out of a painting in Ghostbusters II.  It was supposed to just scare the authority figures, but it goes a step further and kills them in the most graphic and horrific way.  Some would argue that it’s a work of art…

“You are responsible” is something that resonates throughout the episode.  While Scully’s responsibility is evidently clear, there are social responsibilities we must endure.  The character of Trashman (Tim Armstrong) tries to give a voice to the homeless through his art.  His creativity was meant to be an inspiration, to highlight a cause but his art becomes a monster that terrorizes.  He willed the creature into existence based on his own anger and frustration, born into a world of social injustice where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  But because he shuts himself away to protect himself, he doesn’t see what his creation is actually doing – out of sight, out of mind.  The Band-Aid Nose Man makes an assumption, taking a dangerous and emotional idea and carries out his master’s misguided orders. Home Again continues to delve into the parental theme of the series.

Trashman giving the creature a smiley face at the end makes me wonder whether the Band-Aid Nose Man now goes around giving away free hugs…

I wished this episode was given a bit more breathing space and running time to really cement those ideals.  In some respects, both storylines don’t quite reach their full potential and that boils down to execution and time constraints.  But I can’t deny the intention it was trying to achieve and Anderson’s performance holds the episode together.

Thanks to Glen Morgan I can never listen to Petula Clark’s Downtown in the same way again!

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“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.  The source of true art and science.” – Agent Einstein (Babylon)

Babylon is a frustrating yet challenging episode.  It’s not the worst episode I’ve seen – if you’ve never seen First Person Shooter then you don’t know what a bad X-Files episode looks like.  I say frustrating because while the execution was messy, the intention and its heart was in the right place.

A bit like I Want to Believe, don’t expect a monster of the week or some creepy science gone wrong.  Babylon is very experimental, constructed in a way which doesn’t feel like an X-File but more like a lost episode of Fringe.  The episode opens up in a controversial manner, depicting two Muslims blowing up an art gallery.  One of them survives (sort of) and it’s up to Mulder and Scully and fellow new agents, Einstein (Lauren Ambrose) and Miller (Robbie Amell) to communicate with the near death bomber to expose a sleeper cell in America.

Babylon has been accused of being islamophobic which honestly, that was the last thing on my mind when viewing this episode.  Of course it’s a valid point and rightly called out but at the same time it’s sadly no different from what other shows or even Hollywood movies depict.  It’s sad reflection of our times.  To counter-balance that argument, how do you explain or excuse what the nurse did as she tried to murder Shiraz (Artin John) in his hospital room?  She based her conviction purely based on her fear of immigration and a potential secret plot by extremists to infiltrate the United States.  You can’t turn your back on them she suggests.

Honestly I don’t think it was Chris Carter’s intention to create a divide with his episode because Babylon asks a very valid question:

Where does all the hate come from?

We see a heated debate on extremism involving two news anchors on the TV screens, getting you to side with one view or another.  We see Homeland Security agents turning up seeking retribution and if it wasn’t for Agent Miller and his sharpness in decoding their spoken language, their deception would have been complete.  Or how about the judgemental looks that Shiraz receives as he’s driving along the road, prior to the bombing?  Or how about right now as we see it – we see a US Presidential candidate who wants to create divisions in our world through banning, exclusion and deportation. His views on how to win the war on terror – we must target the terrorists’ families.

Scully rightly calls out that division by saying not all Muslims are extremists.  However there is a clear division in our world, brought upon by injustice, prejudice, fear, anger and perception.  Carter illustrates that everyone is talking but no one is doing enough listening.

In a weird way, Babylon asks the viewer to break free of those perceptions and watch with a very open mind.

The episode ends with Mulder and Scully discussing with a sense of utopian idealism about God, religion and their beliefs (which can also be used as a clever subtext to describe their own broken relationship) – we need to find a common language again.

Mulder and Scully approach this case from different angles.  We’re introduced to Einstein and Miller who are clear doppelgängers (think Fight Club) to Mulder and Scully – Miller is the believer and Einstein is the scientist.  There is one clear difference between the agents and that comes down to their personalities.  Think of the episode Bad Blood along the lines of Mulder’s POV – Miller is calm and laid back.  Einstein comes off as a bit abrasive, something which my mind found distracting at times.  Thankfully she had calmed down towards the end of the episode.

Both agents seek out their opposites as if to validate and test their beliefs – Mulder joins up with Einstein and Scully joins up with Miller.  Keeping within the theme of the series, Mulder and Scully become parents to their younger counterparts, showing them alternative ways of exploring a case and to be open-minded.  Scully uses science and Mulder goes on the magic mushroom tour!

When you have all these thought-provoking moments in play, the last thing you need is for a moment to completely overwhelm a very serious subject in an unconventional episode.  Mulder going on the trip was fun but at the same time, a little out of place like watching a scene from Californication.  I don’t mind he started line dancing etc, showcasing the drug high.  I just think the moment went on longer than it should before reaching the most important and relevant part.  I could have lived without the Fifty Shades of Grey moment.

What would have been cool in Mulder’s drugged up state was to see him embrace more of the darkness/fear/paranoia – the drug low.  We’ve seen in the episode Demons where Mulder undertakes a controversial procedure to access memories of his sister.  We know that his depression caused the breakup between Scully, so why not play it up?  Why not hallucinate about Scully instead of Einstein?  Or even, because Babylon is the penultimate episode in the series, why not use the trip sequence to make an obvious foreshadowing to the finale?  The moment felt a bit like a missed opportunity.  Then to dress up it that Mulder was simply fed a placebo was probably pushing the limit.  No way did Mulder imagine that – I want to believe that Einstein gave him a real drug and lied to cover her ass.

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But when the moment hits relevancy, Mulder finds himself on the same astral plane as Shiraz.  He is held by his mother as the boat rows to the “other side”.  Without wasting any time, Mulder listens to what Shiraz has to say.

Part of the problem with “finding a common language” is that everyone has their own interpretation.  How do you change an ideology?  Extremists use religion to justify their terror.  The Western world use war to defend democracy.  We see it everyday on the news on how a lack of understanding, responsibility, ignorance and poor communication can lead to hate because they’re reinforcing their beliefs.  This also applies to the Trashman in Home Again.  He created a monster via his art.  Even though he didn’t mean to hurt anyone, he was responsible for the creature to ensure that it didn’t.  Instead, the Band-Aid Nose Man carries out its terror act under a false notion.  In Babylon, it was the depiction of Muhammad that provoked and led to the bombing of the art gallery.  It’s not a coincidence that the gallery was called Ziggurat.

Using religious symbolism, the world has turned into the tower of Babel.  We as the people have become scattered, with multiple languages and no common ground – humanity’s punishment for over-extending ourselves.

If the scenes with Mulder’s trip served a purpose then it’s the following – it’s the power of suggestion, whatever the tools or the mediums that are used to spread that message, words have weight and power.  Shiraz broke out of his “perception” – he didn’t detonate his bomb, as confirmed by his mother.  If he did, this episode and this discussion would be non-existent.

Babylon is the weirdest episode I’ve seen and the weakest out of the series, purely because everything seems so over the top, pointing out stereotypes we see or assume.  But frustratingly out of all the episodes, it’s an episode that makes you think – if you allow it.  It doesn’t have a straight forward narrative that can be easily explained and that’s where the challenge lies.  It won’t be universally loved because there’s almost a hidden complexity that resides between the lines.  If you take what is implied on the surface, you miss out on the subtext.

I wished Babylon had more of a running time to really convey that message or at least cut down on the trip sequences if time was precious. When Shiraz’s mother came into play, the moment or the reflection that was needed felt rushed.  In fact the episode is guilty of that, especially as we only saw The Lone Gunmen for a few seconds.

The best part of the episode was seeing Mulder and Scully reconcile their differences in a hopeful look at the future.  By seeking their opposites in Miller and Einstein, they challenged each other to find their own common ground and language.

The mysterious sounds that Mulder hears at the end?  It’s the sound of the apocalypse.

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“I didn’t set out to destroy the world, Mulder. People did.” – Cigarette Smoking Man (My Struggle II)

Right, I’m going to get my BIGGEST gripe about this episode out of the way and it has nothing to do with what was presented or the returning characters of the Cigarette Smoking Man and Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish) or that cliffhanger that made me react as if I was watching the red wedding scene from Game of Thrones.

My gripe is for a storyline so big, so epic and grandiose, if there was ever an episode that needed to break the 43 minute rule, My Struggle II was it.  The plot line and what transpired was worthy of being a feature-length movie.  It deserved that.  This would have given the necessary plot elements the right amount of breathing space so that it didn’t feel like you was hit with a ton of bricks whilst trying to process everything at once.

This was the X-File story that I dreamed about!  This was X Files 3.  The X-Files was never going to go down the Independence Day route and blow everything up in spectacular fashion.  My Struggle II showed the beginnings of a viral outbreak – a “plague to end all plagues.”

I wanted to spend more time in this world and just as the episode really started to get going, it ends abruptly (just like The Sopranos) on an epic cliffhanger – ARGH!!!!

But once you put aside the knee jerk reactions to begin to analyse the events, My Struggle II does start to pay off.  I did enjoy it but it also requires S11 to happen fast because they can’t end the series like that.

In principle, My Struggle II is the perfect bookend to the series.  The first episode of S10 depicts Mulder’s struggle.  From a believer’s perspective, the opening monologue serves as an introduction and refresher to Mulder’s life, tapping into his paranoia and what he believes to be the new conspiracy.  In My Struggle II, it’s Scully’s turn.  Her opening monologue is from a science perspective, clearly identifying who the “conspiracy of men” are and what she’s had to endure from a professional and personal level.  We get hints to her abduction, her cancer and her mysterious and miraculous recovery.  The end where she morphs into an alien can be taken either as fact or figuratively – she might be turning into an alien or whatever resides in her body is alien in nature.

The deeper connection to the original mythology and how it all fits together is not easily laid out on a plate and I didn’t expect it to nor was I expecting everything to be explained in the finale. That’s not what the show is about and why should that aspect change now?  The show has been doing that for years!  The X-Files is the exploration of the unknown aka “the truth is out there”.  It never claimed “I know the truth” because the show has presented the audience with many different versions of that truth and yes, that’s incredibly frustrating for a viewer who just wants something credible to hold onto.  I know that doesn’t completely justifies everything but if the show claimed it knew the truth, Mulder and Scully would have solved more cases in their 23 year partnership!

What seems apparent is that there is a breakaway from the mythology into two warring factions – aliens and the humans.  The alien conspiracy is the one we’re familiar with – the bees, the black oil, the vaccine, the alien bounty hunters etc.  My Struggle II presents what this “conspiracy of men” have been brewing and has been in motion since 2012 – a strategic population reduction by shutting down the human immune system.  Through gene manipulation (CRISPR), the Spartan virus was given via a mandatory small pox vaccination right up until the 1970s, and through procreation and inheritance, the virus is carried and spread unsuspected to the next generation.

It basically means – WE ARE ALL SCREWED!

Let’s take a step back to reconcile with what we’re presented with.  My Struggle II deals with the strategic population reduction of the world with exception of the “chosen elite”.  Why – to recreate the world in one’s image.  Doesn’t this concept sound awfully familiar?  It does because that is what Hitler tried to enforce and committed genocide in the process by sending Jews to the concentration camps.

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So whose image or better yet responsible for this viral epidemic?  He seems to have more lives than a cat – The Cigarette Smoking Man.

The Cigarette Smoking Man has a twisted sense of humour and if there was one incredible bright star in My Struggle II, then it belonged to William B. Davis.  The best moment of the episode belongs with Mulder’s encounter with him.  He sent Mulder a message, a ‘messenger’ to be precise and Mulder takes him out Jason Bourne style.  During their exchanges, I love how protective Mulder is of Scully at the mere mention of her name by the Smoking Man.  He demonstrates this by slapping the cigarette out of Smoking Man’s hand.

What makes William B. Davis performance so engaging is that aura of power.  He’s just pure evil, content with the monster he’s become.  He could probably stop what’s happening but he doesn’t want to.  It’s too late in his book.  He tells the truth that is both cold and blunt that it becomes a bitter pill to swallow.  He blames humanity for their self-destructive ways and he’s going to profit from our misfortune.   “You are responsible” from Home Again seems to ring true and we’ve unwittingly unleashed the devil to fill the void.  His plan executed in an homage to War of the Worlds – a civilisation taken out by the smallest unsuspecting microbe.  If that aspect is not scary, I don’t know what is.

Welcome to hell on Earth.

The CSM offering Mulder a deal is nothing new.  Mulder was offered one in Redux/Redux II.  He wanted Mulder to quit the FBI and work for him, giving Mulder an opportunity to know the real truth once and for all, in order to save Scully’s life.  In Two Fathers/One Son, CSM offers Mulder a safe haven where he will be protected from the upcoming apocalypse.  In My Struggle II, CSM offers to save his life in exchange for a “seat at big the table”.  In each scenario, Mulder refuses.

He may love his son and has protected Mulder over the years but he has a funny way of showing parental love.  To him, Mulder is just another piece on the chess board, almost reveling in watching Mulder lose everything.  He plays on his hopelessness and weakness.  As he mentioned in The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati, Mulder sees himself as the hero.  So when he offers him a deal, it’s like a sly mock on Mulder’s character, using the fate of Scully to force him to agree.  When Mulder doesn’t, he won’t bow down to his stubbornness or pride.  If Mulder has to suffer a “hero’s fate”, then so be it.

In a moment of poetic justice, The Cigarette Smoking Man reveals his full face like a pantomime villain, something from Phantom of the Opera.  He wears a facial mask which is similar to his other son, Jeffrey Spender.  He tried to kill him (Two Fathers/One Son) and when he didn’t die, he was subjected to tests that chemically burned his skin, leaving him physically scarred (William)…

*mind explodes*

Personally I believe that was the Cigarette Smoking Man, but imagine the possibilities – what if that was Jeffrey Spender and he’s simply continuing the project?  The real CSM died as we saw him in The Truth.  When Mulder saw him in the underworld in Babylon, he’s already there because he has crossed over.  Why so many close up shots on the eyes, especially between Monica and CSM?  The last time that shot was repeated was in William where Monica’s only interaction was with Jeffrey and not CSM.  ARGH I NEED ANSWERS!

I guess what is not clear at this moment (which requires further investigation) is when did this alternative timeline of the Spartan virus come into play?  The Spartan virus feels like a backup plan, a fail-safe for The Syndicate.  The question is, was CSM alone in this adventure, conjured up like a pet project or were other members of the Syndicate (or even all of them) all in on the plan?

It would make sense for the Syndicate to have this – think about it.  Colonisation was always the plan but they were always at the mercy of the alien colonists.  So why not have something in their disposal that they could personally control?  A weapon.  They were always concerned about their own survival.  Through their scientific work, they managed to delay immediate colonisation so they can stall for time.  When Cassandra Spender became the first alien/human hybrid (Two Fathers/One Son), that sped up the colonisation process, leaving them with no choice but to submit to the aliens.  That’s until the faceless rebels stopped colonisation and burned every member of The Syndicate alive, including proof of the hybridisation program.

Colonisation was always the planned method of destruction – they just changed the timetable and the methodology.  Everybody still dies in the end.  Maybe just like the Arms Race or the Space Race, maybe colonisation was always a race on who was going to control humanity first – the aliens or the Syndicate/Conspiracy of Men.

So the biggest question that came out of the episode is why did Mulder get sick and Scully didn’t?  Easy – it goes back to their respective abductions.

Mulder was abducted by aliens in Requiem but prior to that in Biogenesis/The Sixth Extinction/The Sixth Extinction II, Mulder began developing symptoms that allowed him to hear voices whenever in presence of an alien artefact – consequences from his exposure to the black oil virus in Tunguska/Terma.  It made him more human than human.  It resulted in Mulder becoming a human/alien hybrid, a natural defence against the colonisation plans.  With his health deteriorating, through a medical procedure conducted against his will, his alien DNA was transferred to the Cigarette Smoking Man (which might explain why he’s still alive).  Mulder was left for dead until Scully rescued him.  When Mulder was later abducted and returned (This is Not Happening, Deadalive), he was fighting off a virus that was constructively changing his DNA into a super solider.  It was only when Skinner pulled him off life support and through a course of antivirals Mulder made a full recovery.  He became a normal human being again, removing the alien DNA that potentially would have saved his life.

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Scully’s abduction was a result of men – they kidnapped her (Duane Barry), returned her near death (One Breath), gave her cancer (Memento Mori) and later cured by a strange chip that was inserted in her neck (Redux II).  She was made barren yet her eggs were used to carry out further experiments (A Christmas Carol/Emily).  Against all the odds, she becomes pregnant (Requiem) and delivers a healthy baby boy (Existence).  I believe because of this abduction, Scully naturally became “the chosen elite” and I have no doubt that Scully’s chip in her neck plays a future role because think about it – what has that chip doing for all these years besides curing her of cancer?  My Struggle II seemed to hint at it and might even explain the cliffhanger.  She’s the only one targeted because the chip can act like a GPS signal – wherever she is, they’ll always know where to find her.

In other words – Mulder was the cure for the black oil virus (alien).  Scully is the cure for the Spartan virus (man-made using alien DNA/tech).

If anything, My Struggle II lived up to a strong belief of mine – one day Scully’s science will save the world.  My Struggle II is the most sciency X-Files episode ever made.  Science has been in the forefront during the course of the original series but in this particular episode, it takes a massive centre stage.  It’s an interesting take on mythology and again the episode would have benefited from an extended runtime to let it settle.

Everything happens at a frenetic pace as Scully and Einstein try to get to the bottom of the epidemic.  The science in the episode has been labelled as “pseudo” and far-fetched but here’s my counter argument.  You only have to look at how the news portrayed the Ebola epidemic in 2015 and recently the Zika virus as a potential global threat.  Remember Swine Flu?  Even recently in the UK, scientists got the green light to create genetically modified human embryos using genetic modification procedures.  Can’t be far-fetched if the methods or the possibility of a major health threat exists.  In The X-Files world, it’s not the advancement of technology that’s the problem – it’s how we use it or in this case, how it’s abused.  This insidious group has used the science for their own goals and the entire human population was their laboratory.

If the aliens were just about taking over the planet, why would they even care about public records containing birth certificates, medical records and tissue sample boxes as highlighted in Paper Clip?  Why bother with abductees such as Scully, implanting a man-made computer chip in her neck as highlighted in The Blessing Way and revisited again in The Red and the Black?

Once again, the episode reveals more questions than answers because just as Einstein said, if Scully provided the cure for the Spartan virus, does that make everyone alien, just like the opening teaser?  With Cassandra Spender and Sveta out of the way, Scully is the only existing living proof of the hybridisation experiments.

What this episode should be celebrated is how it depicts women in science – how often is that seen on our screens?  If Einstein came off as abrasive in Babylon, then thankfully this is where she shines, healthily debating the facts with Scully.  She’s the rational head in comparison to Scully’s scientific paranoia.  Remember, she’s not use to making assumptions or taking leaps of faith.  This is not her world but she’s beginning to learn fast.

Regarding Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish) turning to the dark side, to be honest I don’t have a problem with it.  Yes it’s a shocking and massive betrayal.  It’s on a scale that Diana Fowley (Mimi Rogers) would be proud of, given how Monica defends Mulder and Scully’s work in The Truth or helped deliver Scully’s baby in Existence.  But characters showing duplicitous behaviour is not uncommon on the show.

Walter Skinner is a prime example, always treading the thin line between protecting Mulder and Scully from further harm and following orders from the insidious group of men.  The episode Zero Sum showed Skinner at his lowest ebb, becoming a first hand witness of the potential threat of the black oil virus.  If it’s not the CSM, then certainly Krycek (Nicholas Lea) has forced him into compromising predicaments such as deciding to kill either Scully’s baby or Fox Mulder (Deadalive).  Marita Covarrubias (Laurie Holden) played both sides of the game and to a certain extent, even Diana Fowley (less said about that woman the better).  I would even go as far to look at Carter’s other show, Millennium.  Emma Hollis (Klea Scott) ‘sells her soul’ to work for the Millennium Group in exchange for the cure to her father’s Alzheimer’s.

So why does Chris Carter keep returning to this familiar plot device?  It’s because it’s to show how power can corrupt even the best of us, no matter how noble our intentions are.  It happened with Dana Scully in En Ami with the Cigarette Smoking Man offering her the cure for all human diseases, providing she takes a road trip with him and lie to Mulder about her whereabouts.  Sadly for Monica Reyes, she becomes the latest line of victims and I wished there was more time in this episode to uncover Monica’s story.  Once the shock dies down, you have to think or imagine why she would even comprehend such an offer?  Honestly, there’s only one person I can think of – John Doggett (Robert Patrick).

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It’s a bit of a shame that Robert Patrick wasn’t able to reprise his role in the new series, but given what Monica has done, it could only have involved Doggett.  Was he in danger?  Was his life threatened?  Did he find William?  The questions instantly build up in your mind on the possibilities.  Plus even if you think Monica sold her soul, if she had gone that far to the dark side, why even seek out Scully?  Why warn her of the danger?  It’s obvious that she still cares about her friend.  Furthermore, it’s been fourteen years – people change, rightly or wrongly and whether we like it or not.  If I take the analogy about perception from Babylon, then Monica clearly embarked on a mission that clearly compromised her character, destroying what we perceived of her.  The fact the fandom has reacted en masse about her deception means we still have a soft spot for Monica’s nobility, stemming from Gish’s performance in the underrated 8th and 9th season.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Monica Reyes but I’m far more interested in seeing her redemption.  I think she’s undercover.

I know it was the nature of the story but it would have been nice to see more Mulder/Scully interaction instead of reuniting for five minutes at the end.  At least Scully confirms what we’ve all suspected – Mulder is the biological father of William.  As if there was any doubt…

One thing that Carter should be praised on is once again the scale.  He made a TV episode look very cinematic.  The last 10 minutes or so eerily reminded me of his work on his cut short show, The After, with My Struggle II plot elements reminiscent of the S2 finale of Millennium.

With a very tight running time,  how does Carter give a sense of elapsed time between events during a 43 minute episode?  Tad O’Malley.  Through his web broadcasts, he speculates on the nature of the virus and how it’s spread before it eventually begins to take hold of him.

The real question that is raised is do we believe it?  We only see Tad’s point of view with no other news agency reporting the virus.  Tad speculates that it might have gone global but again, there’s no visual sign of that.  He claimed he had anonymous DNA but he too became sick.  Could it just be a fear-mongering exercise or will the viral outbreak be addressed as an isolated incident?

Now the cliffhanger itself is interesting.  Chris Carter keeps tradition on ending a series on a key moment.  Some of my favourites have been Anasazi, Requiem and Getheseme.  Annoyingly (just like now), fans have to wait and see how the show is going to return.  Sometimes I do wonder how we coped at all back in the 90s!  But the difference this time around is that in the past, the show had 20-24 episodes to intricately build that in.  For a six episode stint, the series came back into our lives and disappears so quickly.  WHY WAS THIS SERIES ONLY SIX EPISODES!!!!

So what appeared at the end?   Was it military?  If they were, were they responsible for killing Sveta?  If the answer is yes then why kill her?  Was it the aliens?  Did they come to save us or witness humanity self-destruct?  Jokingly, could it be William?  Did he pass his alien driving test and came to rescue his dad?  But most importantly, the UFO or ARV appears and everyone on that bridge is seeing it.  Do they become believers or will scepticism return?  Just because there’s a mass sighting, doesn’t necessarily mean everyone will believe it.  Will everyone lose 9 mins?  THE OBJECT IS HOVERING OVER SCULLY – IS IT THERE TO KILL HER OR ABDUCT HER?  DID SCULLY SAVE THE WORLD?  IS MULDER GOING TO DIE – AGAIN?  FOR MY SANITY SAKE I NEED TO KNOW!!!!

“We must ask ourselves – are we truly alone or are we being lied to?” – it’s a statement mentioned by Mulder in My Struggle that re-enforces the last few moments of the finale.  It’s a cliffhanger that presents more questions than answers, hence why IT CAN’T END LIKE THAT.

Call me a romantic, but for everything that Mulder and Scully have been through, if a set of characters deserve a happy ending, it’s them.  We love their dynamic and their heart and it’s evidently clear that the love is still there between them, no matter how many breakups their endure.

I was half expecting William to turn up at the end so personally that was a disappointment.  Mulder and Scully need him.  However, I have a feeling that William is definitely in the wrong hands – he’s with Old Smokey and he’s probably been there for a long time, maybe grooming William to be his natural successor.  Think about it – who is CSM talking to on the phone?  Again, it won’t be far-fetched as Smoking Man has done it before with Mulder’s sister, Samantha when she was returned from her abduction in Closure.

Whatever happens next, this is shaping up to be a very twisted family reunion.

My minor gripes with the finale – Scully not recognising her BFF and ‘whale music extraordinaire’ Monica Reyes on the phone or the fact that Mulder can still go AWOL in 2016.  How is that possible?  He works for the FBI, they could easily track his phone.  Yet Miller examines Mulder’s laptop and finds a phone finder application, locating Mulder in Spartanburg, South Carolina (I see what you did there Chris).  Given how paranoid Mulder is by covering up the webcam on his laptop, why would Mulder have an application like that?  Does he lose his phone more than his gun now LOL?

But overall, My Struggle II does have some level of satisfaction.  I prefer it to the season 9 finale.  The Truth felt like a 2 hour Law & Order episode, self reflecting on the show’s history by trying to wrap everything in a neat bow by putting the truth on trial.  At least My Struggle II just gets on with it, dealing with the fact in hand.

Just one thing though – did Dagoo survive all this? 😦

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Dana Scully: “This is dangerous.”

Fox Mulder: “When has that ever stopped us before?”

So how do I summarise this epic review?  Well it’s simple – WE NEED SEASON 11.

20th Century Fox advertised My Struggle II as the “season finale” instead of “series finale” – that in itself is a very good indication that the show will return, hence while my sanity will drive me mad for a while, I can wait.  This mini-series was a useful experiment on setting up The X-Files in the new world.  It can’t stay in the 90s just like the good old days – at some point the show has to adapt and move beyond simple nostalgia.

In hindsight, this six episode stint probably should have been all mythology episodes, but on the other hand, the greatest appeal for the series was its variety.  The show had something for everyone and we would have missed out on some real gems S10 presented.

Despite a few ups and downs, the writers have brought the series forward.  Now Season 11 can now begin (hopefully) to address some of those questions that the finale raised.

But when it does come back, here are a few things I would like to see:

  • More episodes!  Given the scope of the show, six episodes is not enough.  Please come back for more.  8-10 episodes would do nicely, giving it more room to manoeuvre and throw in more of a build up towards a finale.
  • Don’t be afraid of an extended running time, especially if S11 comes back with a limited number of episodes.  The ideas for S10 are brilliant with each episode tapping into the bigger picture.  So don’t let time be your enemy when you need to let the episode settle.
  • Need more Walter Skinner.  That point is self-explanatory.
  • Show William.  He’s now key to this new mythology.  What has he been up to?  How does he fit into this new world?  Has he grown up to resent his biological parents?  Or is he seeking his own truth?
  • Gibson Praise – where is he in all this madness?  Like William, show him.
  • Bring Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul) and Frank Spotnitz (Hunted/The Man in the High Castle) back on board.  This is not a criticism with the writers and their creative choices for season 10.  It’s just that I missed their voices and it wouldn’t be a revival without them.
    • Frank Spotnitz can certainly help shape the new mythology, just like he did when he joined the original series.  His collaboration with Chris on the mythology episodes are some of my favourite XF episodes ever made.  He’s also been a massive campaigner to get X-Files back on our screens.
    • Vince Gilligan – well I’m sure he would want to write an episode that could rival Darin’s Were Monster.  That episode may have stolen his crown as the best comedic XF episode.
    • Speaking of the writers – more Darin Morgan episodes!
  • Maybe invite a guest writer – what would a Bryan Fuller X-File episode look like?
  • Wouldn’t it be cool if season 11 started with someone else’s struggle?  We’ve already had Mulder and Scully’s – how about William?  CSM’s?  Or actually, how about Monica’s? Or story pitch idea – Scully tracks down CSM and the entire episode is dedicated to just them, with Scully forcing the uncomfortable truth out of him.

If you’re a new viewer, I wouldn’t recommend S10 and I don’t mean that in a bad way for you or the season itself.

In order to understand what has transpired in S10, you have to understand the show’s history and its context.  You have to start from the beginning and formulate your own opinion.  If you start from S10, you would be jumping into a massive story with no guidance.  Some of the criticisms/negativity have come from mainstream critics who don’t have that understanding or not prepared to make those connections.  The fans that have seen them all, have at least taken their time to write it down, review it and critique it, highlighting both the positives and the negatives of each episode – like what I’ve done.

I wouldn’t be writing this length of a review if I didn’t care about this show!  I am a true fan.  This show has been a part of my life since I was 8 years old.  I don’t take it lightly.  The fact that this show has come back, almost against all odds of expectations and still have relevant stories to tell just fascinates me.  Look at this review and what I’ve highlighted.  I don’t have all the answers but I’m going to enjoy trying to make the connections all over again, debating and speculating the possibilities.  That essence was my 90s in a nutshell and in 2016, just like The Giant from Twin Peaks said – “It is happening again.”  No other show has done this to me and you certainly don’t get over 50 million viewers worldwide if the fan appetite wasn’t there.

Did the series suffer from high expectations – well only you as the viewer can answer that and it’s hard to please everyone.  I rather have a show that tries to push the boundaries, challenge itself and do something different than a show just repeating what it did in the past.  Whether it’s X-Files, Twin Peaks in 2017 or any other reboot/revival on the cards or in production, they’re going to come under that same scrutiny when it comes to fan satisfaction.

The X-Files S10 is something I can safely say that I’ve enjoyed and I can’t wait for more.

So Chris, Glen, Darin, James, Vince, Frank, Mitch, William, Annabeth, Robert and of course, the brilliant David and Gillian – clear your schedules.  The truth is still out there and we want a season 11.

All images copyrighted to 20th Century Fox – © 2016 Fox Broadcasting Co.

Author: Kelechi Ehenulo

Creator and writer of Confessions From A Geek Mind. Loves sci-fi and LEGO - couldn't ask for a better combo!

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