X-Files (1993) season 10, episode 1
WRITER: CHRIS CARTER
DIRECTOR: CHRIS CARTER
AIR DATE: January 24 2016
The X-Files returns to television for a six episode limited run, a curious thing. The first episode makes it clear that this is not a reboot (incidentally, I hate that word), but a continuation, with time having had passed, but the main characters still being played by the same actors, and the sense of paranoia and strong science fiction playing out through the episode. The show was groundbreaking in its first run, spinning off two feature films, a spin-off series (The Lone Gunmen), a companion series (Millennium), and a host of sci-fi imitators.
Show creator Chris Carter is back to write and direct the first episode of what can be called Season Ten, titled "My Struggle". An introductory monologue by Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) examines the history of the X-Files and his partnership with Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). And then the narrative goes into the past, with a spectacular crash of a UFO somewhere in the desert and the examination of the crash site by the military and a scientist. The flashbacks play out against the rest of the episode, while the scientist himself features into the present day.
The current day narrative has a right wing conspiracy website host contact the FBI, wanting to talk to the former agents who ran the X-Files. As seen in the second feature film, Scully has turned back to working as a doctor. Mulder is a recluse living out in the country. Their former boss, Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) summons the two back to speak to the man, Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale), who has an alien abductee (Annet Mahendru) that he wants them to meet. The road takes the two former agents into what may be the truth about the Conspiracy they struggled to uncover for years, and it’s a truth with difficulties for them both.
Dana Scully, Tad O'Malley, and Fox Mulder
It’s been years since we’ve seen these two agents, and yet seeing them again in familiar circumstances - back in the face of conspiracy and secrets and intrigue- is very welcome. The actors, like the characters themselves, are middle aged (and yet look good for their ages). What both characters have in common is a sense of melancholy at this point in their lives, drawn by what they’ve lost, and it shows in their eyes. They’re not together anymore, but the bond is still there, the trust and understanding of each other. The actors bring across the impression of stepping effortlessly back into these roles, and conveying those elements.
McHale’s guest role is interesting. The character’s a conspiracy believer in the tradition of the Lone Gunmen - some of what he says about the Conspiracy’s ultimate objectives also evoke Martin Landau’s dialogue from the first film. I like that in a show on the Fox network’s schedule, the character can say something critical and seriously insulting about one of Fox News’ biggest blowhards and general wastes of space (Bill O’Reilly, I’m looking at you). I also like the moment the character says he’s a true believer, while Mulder stresses that he wants to believe. It’s a good nod towards the way Mulder and Scully have evolved as characters- the rational Scully has had a good influence on her partner in making him respect the need for hard evidence, while Mulder, always willing to go out on a limb and a seemingly bizarre train of thought, has shown Scully that some things can’t be explained and categorized.
One episode down, five to go. It’s a welcome sight to see Mulder, Scully, and the always grouchy Skinner back again. The episode ends with the X-Files reopened, and another revelation, one that leaves us asking the big question: how in the hell is that man still alive?