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x-files

After nearly 8 years since the release of The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2008) and more than a decade after the television series had ended in 2002, The X-Files returned to the Fox network with a six-episode Event Series, or its tenth season.  David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson returned to reprise their roles as FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, along with some other familiar faces.  It is a strange batch of episodes and shows The X-Files at its best and worst.

My Struggle

Logline: Mulder and Scully become reunited and are confronted by a web-TV show host with some wild allegations and a possible alien abductee.

“My Struggle” is an underwhelming season opener.  Its redeeming qualities lie in the interactions between Duchovny and Anderson but even those are a bit awkward in this first episode.  Most of that comes down to the blocking, or the placement of the actors in a scene.

Tad O’Malley (Joe McHale), a conservative TV reporter, is an annoying character.  There is an obvious attempt here to modernize The X-Files, which only makes it seem more dated.  Most infuriating is the fact that this episode and the two other clunkers this season were written by series creator Chris Carter.  In “My Struggle” and “My Struggle II,” the two mythology episodes that bookend the season, Carter reinvents the mythology and seems to do away with nearly everything that had been established in the mythology of the original series.  This and the other two episodes represent some of Carter’s worst tendencies as a writer on the series.

Founder’s Mutation

Logline: Mulder and Scully’s investigation of a scientist’s mysterious suicide leads them to a laboratory where genetic experimentation is taking place.

“Founder’s Mutation” is a return to form and a solid episode of The X-Files.  While not a great episode, there is a lot to like here.  “Founder’s Mutation” feels like The X-Files whereas the three Carter-scripted installments do not.  There are a lot of familiar elements, including a meeting with Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) in his office, an obligatory autopsy scene, and big flashlights.  There is more of the familiar Mulder and Scully banter that we love from the original series.  The episode also scores high on the gross-out scale and rivals some of the original series’ most gruesome imagery.

“Founder’s Mutation” has one major flaw and that is its use of cheesy dream sequences with William, Mulder’s and Scully’s son.  William represents the worst of the mythology (i.e. season 9) so the fact that he is shoehorned into this episode and the Event Series as a whole is rather annoying.

Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster

Logline: Mulder and Scully search for a strange and mysterious creature.

“Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” marks the triumphant return of Darin Morgan, who was my favorite writer on the original series.  He scripted four of my favorite episodes and I would rank this episode alongside them.  Despite my gripes with the other episodes, this entry alone makes a great argument for the show’s return.

Whereas the other episodes attempt to modernize The X-Files, this installment embraces the nostalgia.  There are many references to past episodes.  In the obligatory autopsy scene, Scully quips, ” I had forgotten how much fun these cases could be.”  Morgan once again shows his mastery of employing comedic elements and the episode is downright hilarious.  Rhys Darby is fantastic and his comedic timing is perfect.

This episode is more than just a comedy piece though.  It is a touching exploration of humanity and Mulder’s own personal demons in his quest for ‘the truth.’  There is a beautiful scene that takes place in a motel room.  Mulder rambles on to Scully about his theory and in the process, reminds us why we fell in love with these characters in the first place.  Duchovny and Anderson have not lost their wonderful chemistry.  It was refreshing to see a smiling Scully again as she spends a lot of this season in tears or seemingly depressed.

The concept at the heart of the episode, which I will not spoil, is simple but brilliant.  As far as I know, it is a concept that has never been explored.  This is a classic X-File and an instant favorite.  If you watch only episode from the revival, make it this one.

Home Again

Logline: The agents are investigating the gruesome murder of a city official when Scully gets a call that her mother is in the hospital.

“Home Again” is really two episodes – one a horror story with an angry garbage golem and the other – an emotionally heavy plot with Scully’s mother on her deathbed and Scully confronting her guilt over giving up William for adoption.  The two stories do not really come together in the end and would have worked better as two separate episodes as originally intended.

However, it is still a solid episode.  I love the scene in which the golem attacks a woman in her home while Petula Clark’s “Downtown” plays in the background.  It is wonderful, creepy, and is reminiscent of a much better X-Files episode with the word “Home” in the title.  Gillian Anderson, a wonderful actress, does some of her best work on the series here.  I cannot sing her praises enough.

Babylon

Logline: After a bombing in Texas, Mulder and Scully attempt to communicate with the comatose bomber.

“What was that?”  That was my reaction after watching “Babylon,” another weak Carter-scripted episode.  Islamic extremism is a touchy subject but the way in which it is presented here is decidedly problematic.

Mulder’s mushroom trip may very well be the most bizarre sequence to have appeared on The X-Files but it is cringe-worthy bad.  Also, I could not stand Agents Miller and Einstein, who are obviously set up to be like a young Mulder and Scully.  They are just plain annoying.  “Babylon” is one of the absolute worst episodes of The X-Files (but so are “My Struggle” and “My Struggle II.”)  Thanks Chris Carter.

My Struggle II

Logline: People all over the country are becoming ill and Scully believes it is linked to the conspiracy.

“My Struggle II” really left me with a bad taste in my mouth.  It has all the same problems of the premiere and then some.  It is sloppy, poorly written, and all over the place.  The return of the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) is ridiculous but what makes me even more angry is the treatment of Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish), who appeared in seasons 8 and 9.  Her shift of loyalties is unbelievable and forced.  Also, why is there never any mention of Doggett?  To top it all off, the episode ends on a stupid cliffhanger.  ENOUGH SAID.

My Final Thoughts: Overall, the Event Series was a disappointment.  I wish they would just nix the mythology at this point and produce only Monster-of-the-Week, or stand-alone episodes.  Despite the three clunkers though, there are two good episodes (“Founder’s Mutation” and “Home Again”) and one classic (“Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster”) so I am certainly grateful for that.

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