We have a small problem..... They've reopened the X-Files. But was it a good idea?
Over the last week or so I've read a lot of negative previews for the revival of The X-Files. I really didn't want to let them dampen my excitement about the show's return, but I'd be lying if I said they hadn't got me just a little bit concerned.
I needn't have worried.
Although we're not talking all-time series high, My Struggle was a very entertaining, more than adequate series opener. It had a lot of work to do, filling a 13 year gap for one, but it did its job well and has left me excited for more.
I think that the reason why I feel this opening episode worked is because, like Star Wars, Rocky, Jurassic Park, Mad Max and even The Evil Dead, The X-Files managed to successfully tap into our nostalgia whilst delivering something that moves the story on and makes it feel modern and contemporary.
The nostalgia comes from it feeling exactly like the opening episode season 10. As if it had never been away. In fact it was so much like watching the old show it was surreal. The opening credits, in all their early 90s glory, with fresh-faced Mulder and Scully (and Skinner) and eerie Mark Snow music gave me the chills. The chemistry is still there. The heart of what makes the show is still there. Add to that the scenes of rapid-fire
exposition of impossible conspiracies-within-conspiracies wrapped
up in all the portentousness you could ask for, and you have yourself a juicy old slice of classic X-Files.
The nostalgia also comes from having Mulder and Scully back together, or rather not back together. They've moved on. Life's moved on. I love that Mulder has
been off the grid, covering his webcam and hitchhiking everywhere, whilst Scully's been busy doing her bit for humanity, helping patients instead of dissecting cadavers. But get the two of them in the same room and there's plenty of subtext shared between them, plenty of references to their past, plenty of glances that hold just a bit too long. They've got history. We've got history with them. But this was like going back to the beginning, when the world wanted to get the two of them together. You might say the glory days of The X-Files.
Splitting them up, for now, was absolutely the right way to go.
Since The X-Files left our screens in 2002 the internet has exploded with multiple youTube and online sensations offering conspiracy theories-a-go-go. So whereas in the 20th Century we might've been introduced to someone living in their mom's basement, flooding bulletin boards with their gospel, today we get Joel McHale's Ted O'Malley, a suave internet star with his own online show. A show that has proved to be quite lucrative. It's O'Malley who lights the spark in Mulder and brings him back into the game. It's one of O'Malley's connections, Sveta (Annet Mahendru), who changes the game, delivers something new, and sets this mini-series in motion.
I love the idea that all the research, all the investigations, all the evidence amassed by Mulder and Scully throughout their time on the X-Files was all staged. It was "Men", not aliens. Yeah it was alien technology, but it was men using that technology. For what purpose exactly? End of the world stuff perhaps? I don't know, but I'm hoping Chris Carter gives us a bit more on this before these 6 episodes are over.
Of course, Mulder wasn't going to come to this belief just by glancing at Sveta's melon-balled stomach, oh no. That would come from actual physical contact with a working reverse-engineered alien spacecraft. Yep, that'll do the trick. No lights in the sky or shadowy figures, no grainy video tapes or arriving seconds too late. No, this is The X-Files 2016, and the truth is out there on the screen.
And that's a big new thing for this revival. Seeing the spaceship crash, in all its CGI glory, and the wounded alien clear as day, this is something we'd never have been given so freely and forthright back on the original series. There would've always been an element of doubt thrown in, but that doubt is not needed here. Aliens exist, natch. But they ain't the problem! My Struggle has taken the X-Files mythology of old, turned it on its head and given us
the roots of a story which I think will likely end up being far more entertaining
and relevant to watch than a straight-out alien invasion. Kudos to Chris Carter for that.
All in all, My Struggle was a very successful series opener. Sure, there were one or two moments when the acting was a tad phoned-in and the exposition was a little clunky, but
I can forgive that as the story was good and it entertained me. My Struggle reminded me how much fun those old days of The X-Files could be, and, I think, will be again.