The X-Files 6-episode run ended a few weeks ago, but I just watched the last show yesterday. Perhaps it’s a little late in the game to be commenting on it, but I can’t help myself, so here goes:
I began watching the latest incarnation of X-Files with some hope that it would capture the former magic, while also bringing it firmly into the present day and its issues. The creators only had 6 episodes to do this, and for the most part, I believe they succeeded.
Our intrepid heroes, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, are middle-aged now, struggling with their own particular demons. I found Scully much more relaxed and philosophical this time around (I thought her a tad uptight in the original series), but clearly haunted by William, her child with Mulder, who she’d given up as a baby to protect him from ominous forces.
We found Mulder pondering whether or not he’d wasted his entire life working for the X-Files, pursuing his alien conspiracies and inexplicable phenomena. In one of the series “monster of the week” episodes, he finds his mojo again, rambling on and getting excited about his theory, and Scully comments:
Amen to that.
The series was a good blend of the old and the new. The quirky humor was still intact, as well as the complicated, tightly woven relationship between Mulder and Scully; some familiar faces, like Cigarette Smoking Man and Skinner, made their appearances, although Skinner really didn’t have much to do this time around except bark at Mulder to “fix it”. The series was brought up to date with our modern digital technology (Mulder fumbled around with a new app on his cell phone), and tackled timely issues like ISIS.
I liked how some tropes were turned on their heads: in one episode, instead of a human periodically turning into a monster, the monster was afflicted with the horror of periodically turning into a human. We even meet a younger version of Mulder and Scully in Agents Einstein and Miller; agent Einstein is a red-headed, by-the-book scientist, while Miller is more flexible, wanting to believe in the more far-fetched explanations.
But the crux of the series, of course, is the alien conspiracy theory, and it didn’t waste time addressing it. Turns out, after all these years, it’s not the aliens that are causing all the trouble, but a secret cabal of human beings who are using the alien technology salvaged at Roswell for some secret purpose. The purpose being, it is revealed, to destroy humanity in order to save it from its own ills (overpopulation, war, environmental destruction, disease, etc.). If you have alien DNA (people carefully chosen by the cabal, like Scully), you’ll survive the immune system breakdown; if you don’t (like Mulder), you’ll die, which is the vast majority of the population.
In the last episode, Scully scurries around, trying to make an antidote from her own alien DNA, though how she’s supposed to do that in time for the whole word is beyond me. At the moment, she’s more concerned with Mulder, who is near death, and apparently needs stem cells from their son, William, to survive. But of course, she doesn’t know where William is. Right then, on a crowded D.C. bridge, an alien spaceship descends and blasts its otherworldly light on them.
At first, I was outraged. The end?! Even for X-Files, that’s too much. I felt like the carpet had been ripped out from under me. I felt deeply betrayed, bamboozled, railroaded. It was worse than the last episode of Lost. But at least it was only six episodes instead of six seasons.
But maybe it’s not over. It was clearly a cliff-hanger. Nothing’s ever final with X-Files, and so maybe the questions will be resolved in another future 6 episodes, or a movie. Sigh. How long will we have to wait? Another ten years? What if it never comes back? The truth is out there, but we may never come to know it.
We’ll just have to struggle to live with the mystery, resolve to accept the unknown. And that’s what the X-Files is all about, right?