Is it Still Good?
In a previous article, I reviewed the first two episodes of the new X-Files series. Below is my take on the remaining four episodes. Light spoilers ahead.
Episode 3 – Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster
Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) are sent to investigate a case concerning body mutilation in Oregon. Witnesses claim a strange lizard-man killed the person.
Written and directed by Darin Morgan, a series veteran and fan favorite, the episode plays with the genre’s “monster of the week” concept while also switching up Mulder and Scully’s dynamic. Mulder is still reeling from what Tad O’Malley has uncovered, questioning everything he has believed — or wanted to believe — up to this point. Scully, on the other hand, is actually the one more open to the high-strangeness of the case.
The episode works extremely well. Guest stars include comedians Rhys Darby (as the possible were-monster/ Guy Mann) and Kumail Nanjiani (as animal control officer Pasha), a great move given how central absurdist humor is to the episode.
Episode 4 – Home Again
Mulder and Scully are investigating the gruesome murder of a city official when Scully’s mother, Margaret (Sheila Larken), falls into a comatose state. In the hospital, Scully’s relationship with her family is explored alongside regrets she has about William, the child she and Mulder gave up for adoption.
This episode, written and directed by Glen Morgan, went places I didn’t really expect it to. The thought-form monster (commonly referred to as a tulpa, which Mulder addresses), is a cool idea for an episode, but the real meat is in the anguish of Scully throughout. One thing that I really like about the new series is how much it is actually dealing with loose ends the original series left behind, particularly William. It is another strong installment.
Episode 5 – Babylon
This episode, written and directed by Chris Carter, will probably be the most divisive of all the stand-alone episodes of the event series. In it, Mulder and Scully get involved in the investigation of an Islamist terror cell based in Texas, specifically a suicide bomber who is in a coma with critical wounds. Agents Miller (Robbie Amell) and Einstein (Lauren Ambrose), pretty much a younger version of Mulder and Scully respectively, are the leads on the case. Eventually Mulder comes up with the idea to try and get into the bomber’s head using magic mushrooms.
Although I liked Babylon overall, it had a big comedic tonal shift mid-way through, before coming back around to serious. I won’t give away too much but Mulder eventually talks Einstein into giving him magic mushrooms (or does he?), so a good five to ten minutes of the show is dedicated to Mulder’s trip. The uneven tone takes away a bit from the overall point of the episode, but it still has it’s moments.
Episode 6 – My Struggle II
Directed by Chris Carter with co-writers Dr. Anne Simon and Dr. Margaret Fearon assisting Carter with the script, the final episode takes place six weeks after the events of “My Struggle.” Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale) is back on the air and warning the world of an imminent plague that will be the beginning of the end for humankind. The elites of the world are enacting their end-game to wipeout most of the population.
Against this backdrop, Mulder has gone missing. This episode is why I love The X-Files. It takes real-world, nut-job conspiracy theories and twists them into elaborate scenarios that are believable in the world the show creates — if you want to believe, of course.
Several years ago, with the rise of Alex Jones and 911 truthers, I remember thinking that The X-Files missed its time. Conspiracies, no matter how ridiculous, are now believed by large segments of the population. It is easier for a lot of people to believe governments are evil as opposed to incompetent. Even alien conspiracies, very similar to plots that were on the original run of The X-Files, are put forth as possible fact on shows like Ancient Aliens.
This episode nails the panicked tone of internet freedom fighters, but also brings up very real worries of what an actual viral outbreak could do to our current society. The scenes of looting and hysteria late in the episode are of very real concern, even if aliens aren’t involved. It also has the full return of William B. Davis (Cancer Man) and Annabeth Gish (Monica Reyes), so what’s there to complain about?
So does the series live up to expectations? Absolutely! I am really impressed with the it overall and I certainly hope they do more, even if more just means another movie. Whatever cobwebs were on I Want to Believe in 2008 are all gone now. This X-Files has a renewed purpose and went places I really didn’t expect it to, while also trotting enough familiar ground to make the fans happy. Besides nitpicks (where’s John Doggett?), I don’t really have any complaints. I want more and that to me says Chris Carter and company did their job. The truth is still out there and I definitely still want to believe.
Until next time…