SPOILERS AHEAD! YOU ARE WARNED!
Well, actually it was on a Sunday… Sunday night, January 24th, 2016 to be precise. The world, it seems, did not end on December 22nd, 2012.
Okay. Let me make something clear here: As I write this, two weeks have gone by since the series began once again and last evening I watched the third episode, “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster”. For this article I have no intention whatsoever to try and dig up every single easter egg and reference to the original series (of which I’ve watched every single episode twice), as it would be a monstrous task, and there are no doubt already a million sites for X-Philes to visit and enjoy for that effect.
My goal for my two (at least) articles on this revival is to, very simply, examine whether or not the show delivered anything worth watching, either as a stand-alone miniseries or as part of the X-Cult. Positive, negative, and overall. In my humble opinion, of course. Is it all done to appeal to die-hard fans? To be honest, I think there is a good deal of that. I’m not sure a casual passer-by would get on board.
And I’m okay with that. I’m betting one or two new fans will be made with this revival, and the majority of old fans will be happy. Not all, but more than enough.
“My Struggle”, episode one, immediately struck me as comfortable, meaning it felt like the X-Files — it was apparent right away that “the team” was reassembled for this. The show is NOT a reboot, refit, nor a reset. A rehash? Well, here and there perhaps, but for this show it actually works.
As I’ve mentioned in an article last year, one thing the X-Files does so very, very well is to not take itself too seriously. Chris Carter and his team of writers and actors take self-parody to the next level (Humbug, X-Cops, among many others), and after watching the Were-Monster episode, it’s easy to see the team has not lost its touch. But the X-Files do something else very well, something that not so many TV shows or movies succeed at: taking a nebulous idea and creating a story out of it.
The premiere episode, is basically a reintroduction to the show, with Mulder monologuing over stills from episodes such as “The Host”, “Home” (one of the more disturbing ones), “Jersey Devil” where we see Mulder’s blazing red speedo for the first time (it shows up again in this season’s third episode), and several others.
This episode gave me all the warm fuzzies as Mulder, Scully, and Skinner make their appearances. No monsters this time, just a dip in the alien invasion thread that was always near during the nine original seasons. The feel of the show was very definitely Chris Carter, with familiar scenes and pacing.
The second episode “Founder’s Mutation”, a gruesome episode, focuses on experimental research on babies and this causes both Mulder and Scully to bring up memories of William, the son they had together during the final season of the original series. Scully was supposedly not able to have children because of her abduction in season 2 (we find out in season 8, I think…), but asks Mulder to donate his “little swimmers”.
During season 9 we see little William display some unusual abilities, but that storyline is not explored much. By the end of the show, Scully very reluctantly gives up William to adoption in order to keep him safe from the Men in Black, the Syndicate, aliens, and I don’t know who else. I’m betting my popcorn we’ll see William before the end of this revival, and I toss in a beer with that bet to state that he is probably in cahoots with the aliens. To save the world or something.
I was going to wait to talk about the third episode, but I really must talk just a bit about it now…
“Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” was just gold. I fully admit that for the first ten minutes my tiny brain worked mighty hard to figure this tale out. A joke? Some kind of weird hoax or something? Nope, this was a chance that only a show like this could take. The show-runners know very well that fans of the show are not going to change the channel just because something is a bit off the wall — us X-Philes live for this stuff, search it out in other shows, usually (but not always!) meeting with failure. Once I got it (took me those ten minutes, I’m not quick), I laughed a good way through this episode, in a good way. A ton of fun.
This episode took the show’s whole mythology and made it all face it’s own reflection, only to then turn the mirror toward us, the viewers. The premise of the X-Files is, on a practical level, silly and that is exactly the characters face. But underneath all that silliness is a thread of serious questioning that must never be denied; by the end of the episode Mulder sees the monster, and it is real. Yet the monster didn’t start as such, it only became one when it took on a human existence, forced to find a job, get a mortgage, grow a mustache.
One last thing that is a treat to watch: the technology back in 1992 was not at all like it is now, and the show is acknowledging it. Mulder is a complete klutz with a cell phone, and despite Scully’s claim that she is “old school, pre-Google”, she is the one who has adapted quite nicely.
I look forward the the last three episodes, and I already miss the show. It is easy to see where Fringe got much of it’s inspiration, indeed where many people have gotten their inspiration. Not every episode of the original series was gold, but the vast majority were keepers, and I’ll be watching again.