The X-Files – Season 10 (2016)
created by Chris Carter
written by Chris Carter, James Wong, Darin Morgan, Glen Morgan, Anne Simon, and Margaret Fearon
directed by Chris Carter, James Wong, Darin Morgan, and Glen Morgan
In 1993, when I was a wee lad of 22, I watched the first few episodes of a new sci-fi/supernatural series entitled The X-Files (1993-2002) and my geek self immediately fell in love with it. The show, about with two FBI agents investigating paranormal phenomena and alien conspiracies, had it all. There were creatures, mutant serial killers, extraterrestrial kidnappings, and plenty of supernatural delights… as well as an all-encompassing mythology arc about little green men and a shadowy cabal of humans intent on world domination. This was well before the days of information overload, so I would wait excitedly for each week’s episode and sit in front of the TV (appointment viewing, no less), giddy with anticipation. Soon The X-Files earned its place in pop culture history and made detectives Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) household names. My fandom even took me to local X-phile conventions where I would try to pitch script ideas (I eventually wrote two spec scripts that were promptly rejected by the production team, thus crushing my fantasy of becoming Anderson’s boyfriend).
By the seventh season, though, The X-Files had lost all sense of direction, unable to tie together all the narrative threads regarding warring aliens, clones, and virus-carrying bees (or something). The final two-parter episode, The Truth, aired in 2002 and quickly became the worst TV ending of all time until Lost (2004-2010) took its place eight years later (that one requires its own extensive post to be written at another time). In any case, when Fox decided to revive the series for a six-part run this year, I was both skeptical and excited about it. The grouchy old man of 44 didn’t think creator Chris Carter could possibly make The X-Files relevant again, while the wee lad of 22 had his hopes up for a continuation of the old magic. The result I’m afraid is neither nor.
The show picks up with Mulder and Scully reunited fourteen years later by a right-wing conspiracy theorist (Joel McHale) who believes a plot involving alien technology is being unleashed against humans. This warrants the reopening of the X-Files division, with the agents getting involved in other cases such as terrorist attacks, experiments gone awry, and encounters with lizard men. It’s all pretty sluggish and not very well written, with plot holes and lapses in logic that made me squirm. Worse, there are moments of outright ineptitude, such as the ending to Babylon, where Mulder discusses the possible existence of God (!) and suddenly hears the trumpets from the Book of Revelation as The Lumineers’ song Ho Hey plays in the background. I shit you not.
However, there are sequences where everything clicks again: The banter between Mulder and Scully, underscored by their love and respect for each other; the creepy sight of a “trash man” ripping people apart; the threat of a massive pandemic; a hilarious line dancing hallucination. And thankfully there is one bona fide episode in the bunch, Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster, a surreal and funny detour into meta territory that somehow manages to turn old ideas about monsters and transformations on their head while also serving as social satire (yep, being a middle class human with a middle class job certainly sucks). Had there been more of these, maybe an eleventh season would be justified.
As it stands, this tenth outing is pretty meh, with only a few fleeting moments of inspiration. But nostalgia is a bitch. I guess if Mulder and Scully return with more episodes, no matter how crappy, I’ll have to continue watching.
After all, I can’t let my girl Gillian down.
P.S. The X-Files did return with an 11th season in 2018. I watched it. It was pretty much as mediocre as this one, and ended on another cliffhanger that made little sense. Watch at your own risk.
Carlos I. Cuevas