Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The X-Files Revival: My Struggle & Founders Mutation

The X-Files revival review
Mulder and Scully finally return for the highly-anticipated The X-Files revival. Finally we can say adios to the long wait for the tenth season! Below is a recap and my thoughts of the premiere episode as well as the follow-up. Hope you enjoy!

My Struggle, directed and written by show creator Chris Carter, had a lot to catch up on in the fourteen years since the show last aired, and nearly eight years since his second film opened to negative reviews.

In the series' finale Mulder escaped his indictment with the help of Scully and their fellow agents. The duo met with a wise man in the Grand Canyons who had knowledge of the alien's invasion at the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012. What the pairing discovered was the thought-to-be-dead Cancer Man, who was then blown to smithereens. Having survived yet another deadly encounter against their rival, the agents moved forward lying low from the FBI. For the second film I Want To Believe, the charges against Mulder were eventually dropped when he was called in to investigate a serial kidnapping, which left him and Scully's personal relationship strained.

One lingering question from the series' finale we wanted answered was the meaning of Cancer Man's revelation about the Mayan Calendar and the end of the world. Since the real world pushed onwards past 2012, the series made a turn to use that famous apocalyptic date as our own inflicted demise.

With the revival's premiere Carter was wise to start with a mythological episode - one that dealt with the aliens landing on Earth, our government's cover-ups and experimentation in an attempt to maintain power as the world's dominant race.

What else would draw Mulder back into his one-man truth-seeking escapade than a famous conservative webcaster Tad O'Malley (Joel McHale) who speaks about governmental take-over and other phenomena. He also has a contact with an alien-abductee Svelta, a young woman whose been kidnapped, impregnated, and then has her unborn alien babies taken. Through Tad, Mulder also gains access to a government base which is reworking an alien space-craft using free energy. Mulder is led to believe that the U.S. Government is and will be using alien technology against the unsuspecting masses until World War III breaks out.

The series itself was primarily a Mulder-led parade of his conspiracies and hope for the truth, and this was a good-natured episode to do the same thing. I particularly loved Tad and Mulder's soap-box monologue which hit on nearly every event of the past decade or so: weather wars brought on by droughts, perpetual war, the onset of the Patriot Act and National Authorization of Military Defense act, unnecessary prison camps built by FEMA, corporate takeover of food and healthcare, the government tracking our phones data, and location, the fattening of the mass populace and consumerism - among other things. What a way to make peoples' heads turn Carter!

Scully, on the other hand, realizes Mulder is treading on dangerous ground. Even though she warns him against *doing the thing*, he attempts to do it anyways. She threatens to leave but ultimately sticks around - just long enough to see Mulder's new faith in the truth ripped out from under him. In the end, she too she wants to take down the men behind her own abduction once again.

For a fresh start to the revival, it wasn't necessarily a lot of fresh material for hardcore X-Files fans. That being said, it was a good re-introduction to the series. The premiere helped us wade into the water of how the world moved on after the X-Files.

Any central conflict to Mulder's findings wasn't necessarily strong. Most of it was Mulder's beliefs facing off against the truth. Unlike the Cancer Man who was the lead antagonist for seven seasons, no real villain made a point of entry. Most of the debate and tension was shared between Scully and Mulder, and their conflicting natures about their findings.

Carter made the episode a brief well-paced recap of the first nine seasons and second movie, as well as giving Mulder room to divulge into his apathy for both conservatives and liberals. If anything the episode was the beginning of Mulder's validation again to seek the truth.

Really there was so much to be excited for - just seeing the trio back together again and the hope of everything that's coming next. The X-Files is back so let's rejoice. And if we don't take anything else away from the first episode, Skinner hasn't aged at freaking all. As much chemistry returned between Anderson and Duchovny, Pileggi's presence as the Assistant Director to their department was a much-missed return too. He offers a lot as their father-like figure, as well as friend and confidante. It was great seeing the team come back together. Also, learning of the news that the X-Files has been re-opened, Cancer Man re-emerged alive and still smoking. YES.

S10X02 Founder's Mutation

Premiering the night after the premiere, Founder's Mutation kicked off the new round of monster-of-the-week episodes. With Mulder and Scully officially back on the X-Files, the agents investigate the mysterious suicide of a doctor at a prominent laboratory.

Directed and written by X-Files veteran contributor James Wong, the second episode brought forth the original mythology arcs with Scully's pregnancy but made it a bit more refreshed.

What begins as an investigation into Sanjay's mysterious death brings about an emotional examination of the tortured children of eugenics, even the alien experimentation, as well as Scully and Mulder's adopted son William.

Sanjay was a doctor at eugenics lab who began hearing piercing noises, causing near mental breakdowns and physical torture. Through the piercing sound only he could hear, voices would tell him to do certain things. Faced with one last alternative to relieve himself of the pain, Sanjay ended up self-propelling a letter opener through this ear causing his death. As Mulder and Scully look further into the corporation Sanjay worked for, they come closer to seeing the experimentation done on children who are born with all kinds of diseases and deformities.

The revival didn't wait to go after the feels in terms of how Mulder and Scully continue to handle Williams' adoption. Very early on in the premiere episode, the agents' meeting with Svelta, Mulder lightly turned on a sensitive note of how Cancer Man and the government used women as incubators. The focus of the case dealing with children left Scully wondering if she should have stayed by Williams' side rather than given him up for adoption. Her dreams of raising him revealed taking him to school and reinforcing how much she loved him no matter what, only to face her fears if he turned out to have alien mutations. Meanwhile Mulder too had dreams of raising William watching baseball and shooting off rockets together; being the supportive father who was unafraid to answer questions, unlike his own.

Connecting the eugenics lab to their child was a great middle-ground. Sometimes I wish the direction of the show could go even further, but since we only have six episodes, it was a good starting (and possibly ending) point. The loss of their child was a pivotal moment that I don't think was ever fully delved into and left us emotionally rewarded. I would hope that the series didn't bring William up without it having a bigger significant point down the road, but we shall see.

Where the episode hit a lot of good notes is just how modern and old-fashioned the show felt. Sometimes the monster-of-the-week episodes were genius in their creativity and absurdity like Bad Blood. Sometimes so much scienctific or psychological terminology was to explain a phenomena, the actual emotional impact was lost in the shuffle. Founder's Mutation had great even pace focusing on the children of Neugenics (which is funded by the government) as well as Scully. It's even difficult to call it a monster-of-the-week episode because when you see these youthful patients abandoned by their mothers and left for continuous isolation for testing, they don't fall into the typical alien hoopla. We were allowed to connect to the mothers who are forced to give up their children for "science" versus the mother who was forced to give up her child so he was protected.

The original half of the series from 1999-2002 redefined the success of a genre-type, especially science-fiction. This new version might be a little 'aged' but the faces are familiar and those good ol' mysteries are just as fun and suspenseful. It's funny - because any of us X-Philes can go online and watch The X-Files. The whole series is at our fingertips and a few clicks of a mouse. Yet there is a need for this show to return. I think people miss this type of entertainment, the characters, and subject matter; unlike so many science-fiction or investigative shows that all feel alike. For all the can-of-worms The X-Files has opened over the years, it's great to have it back.

Additional thoughts:
  • Does Mitch Pileggi / Skinner ever freaking age? Still have a major crush on that guy.
  • Cancer Man smoked real cigarettes. So awesome that FOX didn't "kiddy" that up.
  • With the constant critical and fans' dismay towards Chris Carter, I couldn't help but think if the hatred towards his premiere episode was mere disappointment carrying over from the series/second film. It wasn't that bad.
  • The X-Files itself is a conundrum. Carter left the series in such a funk with so many unanswered questions, it's hard to gauge which ones truly need to be answered and which ones will just be washed over with new unanswered questions.
  • What's sad about the revival is now we only have four episodes to go.
  • Could the revival's 16 million viewers for the first two episodes spark a spin-off like the one Carter wanted to do all those years ago?
  • Duchovny and Anderson have said they couldn't do the same schedule as before, but what about younger characters? I wouldn't put it passed FOX.


  1. I love that we share the Pileggi crush. lol. He looks good, and I like the scruff. I agree that the 2nd film wasn't that bad, and even though I didn't *love* the premiere, it mostly had to do with Duchovny phoning it in. The 2nd ep was far better. I don't hate Carter, but I do hate that he made us wait so long for Mulder and Scully to get together. Which is weird, because I don't mind that they're split up now. I never thought I'd say that. I shipped those two before I was old enough to know what shipping was. lol

    Great recap!

  2. Good recap Katy! I've heard a lot of people complain about the first two eps. I'm sure it could have been better, but I'm just so excited to see those two back together on television I didn't really care. I loved it. I loved every minute of it. I wish it had been a little better, but Duchovny summed it up best..."they were a little rusty." And who wouldn't be rusty after 14 years. They're bringing the band back together and it was glorious. I've heard that the 3rd episode is absolutely hilarious and a very "traditional" X-Files episode. There are very few series in which I can boast having seen every single episode. This show is one of them. I hope it comes back as another mini-series next year.

  3. Thank you Brittany! I can't believe that he is 63 years old! He still looks as better as ever, and I like the scruff too. Duchovny really did phone in the first episode; he seemed tired for most of it. I don't know if he was going for Mulder just being uninterested but it came off as lacking energy. haha Scully and Doggett are a bigger ship for me than Scully and Mulder but I can understand the frustration. They definitely have chemistry and so much freakin' history, it's hard to think of them not being together. :)

  4. Thank you Mariah! The first episode did a good job at capturing what's happened since we last saw them. It might haven't been an unnecessary recap for critics/longtime fans, but I roped my family and my mom's friends into watching it - and it did good to help them understand nine years of the series. Coming back from a 14 year break, rusty is expected. It's funny because we could watch X-Files on Netflix anytime, but it's awesome that everyone is back together. I've watched the new episodes a few times this week already! It's so much fun and I hope they come back for a mini-series too. :)