Mulder and Scully are back!


Courtesy of Fox

THE X-FILES: David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in the “Babylon” episode of THE X-FILES airing Mondays (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ed Araquel/FOX

Maclaren Krueger, Reporter

Since its debut in 1993, The X Files has captivated audiences with its thought-provoking dialogue and inventive story lines. In this fresh, albeit strange, take on science fiction, FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully investigate unexplainable, unsolvable, and often paranormal cases. These investigations are identified by an “x” before the file number–hence the name X Files. This fringe division of the FBI is often dismissed and ridiculed by mainstream agents, Mulder often receiving the brunt of the insults for his dedication to and unwavering belief in the paranormal. Scully, his skeptical and often sarcastic partner, focuses more on observable science over Mulder’s unsubstantiated theories. As a medical doctor and scientist, her logic often counteracts his overzealous attitude and obsessive determination.

But whether it’s the latest monster of the week, government conspiracy, bad guy, or “Sculder” drama, it’s that so-close-yet-so-far tug of war that keeps fans coming back week after week. Or maybe we just come back because we’re all under the delusion that one day writer Chris Carter will have mercy on our weary hearts and just give us what we want: the truth about aliens (and Sculder)!

And the truth is out there! Or so the infamous X Files slogan says. Since day one, all Mulder ever wanted was the truth, whatever that may be. However, it’s proven to be more elusive and undefined than previously thought. While the series finale answered a few pending questions, there was still a lot left to be said. Now after thirteen years of waiting, the series was revived this year for a six episode event.

Understandably, with nine seasons and two movies already under its belt, The X Files looks like a daunting task to newcomers. Am I going to understand what’s happening? Do I have to watch the original series before the new series? Is it geared towards original fans? Is it even good? Yes. No. Yes and no. Definitely a yes.

Season ten, as fans lovingly refer to it, is basically a beginner’s guide to The X Files. In fact, one of the episodes has a full recap of the most important moments in X Files history–just to get the newbies up to speed. And although you don’t have to watch the original series to watch the revival, I’d recommend that you watch it anyway. Add it to your list on Netflix; they’ve got every episode! So of course it’s geared towards fans, but they’ve also worked very hard to gather a new audience.

Before I started the first episode I was nervous that, like so many movie sequels, this revival was going to disappoint and, frankly, insult the fans. Nevertheless, I was anxious to see what Carter was going to do with our dynamic duo so many years later. And after the first episode I was pleasantly surprised. It did a nice job of introducing the characters to a new demographic, as well as staying true to the Mulder and Scully that us “X-philes” know and love.

Overall, the season was a whirlwind blur of excitement crammed into six short weeks of television. The first episode, My Struggle, introduced the signature alien/government conspiracy that would underlie all six episodes. I was a little disappointed to find that it was almost identical to the story archs of the original series. However, the excitement of the revival masked My Struggle’s well worn and repetitive plot.

The rest of the season, except for the big alien conspiracy, fit into two categories: monster of the week and blast from the past. Carter regularly appeased fans by bringing back old characters and even older memories. How they brought back characters, on the other hand, was questionable. It seemed sloppy, with too many loose ends and unanswered questions to be a valid reason for the characters’ return. Not that I’m complaining.

Additionally, the references to the original series were well explained for the newbies, but ambiguous enough to make the audience (new and old) want more.

Originality wise, the conclusion of the season definitely made up for the first episode. The situation with Mulder and Scully’s son William, as well as the alien conspiracy-turned-invasion arc both came to a head. The tension was palpable in the low lamp light of my living room.

Overall, the revival season had a lot of strong elements. It accommodated both new and old fans without over simplifying the characters. However, in doing that, Carter ended up cramming too much into six episodes. For the dedicated fan, it was reference after minute detail after plot twist. To the casual viewer it was overwhelming. Though I understand Carter’s desire to really hook the audience, hopefully the next season (if there is one) will be less of a cacophony and more of a symphony.

Would I recommend watching the new series? Yes. Ignoring the background noise, you’ll find that the humor and soul of the characters are still very much alive. And if you look at the raw content and quality of the writing, you’ll find that The X Files is a thoughtful and entertaining piece of television.