Like many other people, I kind of called it quits on The X-Files around the 7th or 8th season. I checked in on Fox Mulder and Dana Scully every so often, but after 7 years, Mulder had a lot of vacation days. He was regularly nowhere to be seen, and who could blame him. It also felt like creator Chris Carter dug himself deeper into evermore incomprehensible conspiracies, so the series finale (season 9, double episode 19) came as a relief.
When the FBI duo came back, in the 2008 movie I Want to Believe, it proved everybody’s point that The X-Files were done. Until Hollywood began digging up graves of past successes, that is. And me too, got excited about a return of Mulder and Scully on the small screen. Call it an inclination to nostalgia, a chance to relive my first encounter with the show, call it what you will. Fact is, The X-Files brought movie quality to television drama in 1993. Carter changed the game. It took however another decade before the game was actually changed, with 24, Alias and The Sopranos as the first wave of shows that meant business. There’s more quality drama out there than ever now, more competitive outlets with onorthodox play books all getting a piece of the pie. It will be very interesting to see how The X-Files (albeit with only 6 episodes in 5 weeks) is going to fare amidst all these hungry sharks – X’s own offspring – in the water.
Season 10, episode 1, titled ’My Struggle’, takes Mulder (David Duchovny), Scully (Gillian Anderson), Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) and The Cigarette-Smoking Man (William B. Davis) out of retirement. Carter has big plans for them, because the old conspiracy’s dusted off, repackaged and very 2016. Everything they missed out on these past 14 years, plays a vital part in one giant scheme. In terms of special effects, there’s no limit to what they can do these days, and they’re not holding back. In terms of direction, it’s flawless. In terms of music, Mark Snow is back at the controls. In terms of main titles, it’s like the show never left. It basically picks up right where it left off, with Mulder forgetting about his depression and diving right into the extraterrestrial rabbit hole.
Really, any reservations you may have had concerning this ‘event’, they’re efficiently dismantled in the first episode. The X-Files has splendidly returned to form, and I couldn’t be happier about it. For Carter, the actors, FOX (the network) and a dozen other reboots, continuations and events currently being in the works. After Heroes Reborn, and the constant production calamities of Twin Peaks, studios might think twice about bringing an old property back to life. And I really would like to see the new A-Team, the inventive jailbirds of Prison Break and the Jack-less 24: Legacy. Luckily, Carter and company have shown there’s nothing to be afraid of. Kickstarting old franchises can be executed brilliantly.
So, okay. That’s enough praise, I think – right? The story, then. As we’ve known from 9 seasons and 2 movies, men inside the government used to fumble around with alien technology. Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale), a populistic conspiracy thinker AKA personality television show host, has put (more than) a few pieces together. He invites Mulder and Scully for a glass of champagne, trying to get them on board and guess who bites and who doesn’t. On board of what, that remains a bit of a mystery, since there’s only the conspiracy theory at this point and no real plan to expose whoever’s behind it.
The key to everything is a girl called Sveta (Annet Mahendru, The Following, The Americans). She’s been abducted and impregnated multiple times, supposedly by aliens. Mulder figures out they never were aliens, but men. Powerful people who want to destroy the world and blame it on extraterrestrials. David Duchovny has got an extreme amount of exposition to do throughout the episode; he gives Jules Winnfield a run for his money. ‘My Struggle’ is rich in every way, there’s a lot to take in, but doesn’t feel bloated (like, for example, the first two episodes of season 7 did). Now that Mulder has gotten a glimpse of a global threat, which is already in progress, he can’t let go. Skinner – still only assistant director, by the way – sees the importance of it, too. He reopens that damp dark room in the basement. Ladies and gentlemen, The X-Files have been reopened. O, and Mulder and Scully have a child together.