The Horror Honeys: Sci-Friday ~ The Truth is Way, WAY Out There

Sci-Friday ~ The Truth is Way, WAY Out There

A Sci-Fi Honey Revival Recap by Katie

The X-Files: Season 10 (2016)

For X-Philes everywhere, it was an announcement that threatened to break the internet: on January 17, 2015, Fox confirmed that writer/director/architect-of-my-wildest-dreams Chris Carter would initiate production on a 10th season instalment of The X-Files. It had been 14 years since the conclusion of season nine, so this six-episode miniseries event had a lot at stake: catching up with characters we’d known and loved for more than two decades, introducing the world of the show to a new generation of fans, and continuing the saga of some of the greatest stories ever told in the history of sci-fi/drama television. With David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson on board to reprise their iconic lead roles of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, as well as familiar faces Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) and the Cigarette-Smoking Man (William B. Davis) – not to mention many of the writers, directors and producers from the show’s original run – all the stars appeared to be in alignment for a revival experience we’d never forget. 

Now that the 10th season has concluded, however… do we STILL want to believe?

I'm really trying, Scully, I really am.
Forget the Super Bowl; the most exciting television event for this Sci-Fi Honey in 2016 happened on Sunday January 24th, when the season 10 premiere marked the first brand-new episode of The X-Files since it originally left the airwaves in 2002. Written and directed by series mastermind Chris Carter, My Struggle reunited Mulder and Scully in a scenario we know all-too-well: mired in a shadowy alien/governmental conspiracy. The X-Files basement office is re-opened at the FBI, and all the players are still involved (with one additional character, a yammering right-wing political pundit played by Joel McHale), but something is not quite right from the start. Despite still looking amazing since last we saw them and sharing a widely-publicized camaraderie in real life, both Duchovny and Anderson seem weary in each other’s company as Mulder and Scully – the only spark igniting between them during some verbal sparring toward episode’s end. The follow-up episode, written and directed by series regular James Wong, only slightly improved upon the convoluted conspiracy storyline of the season premiere. Though all the pieces were there, something was still missing… and I was beginning to wonder if Carter and co. had let us all down.

Say it ain't so!
A delightful change occurred in the middle of the 10th season, and it was all thanks to beloved series contributor Darin Morgan – who wrote, directed, and even guest starred in some of the most memorable episodes of the entire series. His Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster was a welcome change of tone for the revival, and an excellent vehicle for Duchovny and Anderson to prove that they still have comedic chops. With callbacks to previous episodes, wickedly smart humor, and a truly inspired monster, Morgan’s installment may go down in history as one of the most definitive hours in the X-Files canon. Darin’s older brother Glen Morgan was responsible for the following episode, which captured an emotional linchpin in Scully’s relationship with her dying mother and the son that she gave up for adoption. Between the comedic high of episode three and the poignant depth of episode four, it seemed as though the revival was finally achieving the correct balance of head and heart that the series was so well-regarded for – that is, until Carter got the reins back for the conclusion of the season.

They were doing just fine without you, Chris.
Let’s begin with the problematic penultimate episode, Babylon; a misguided mishmash of tone and subject matter that oscillates between the horrific depiction of terrorist attacks via suicide bombing and Mulder line dancing to “Achy Breaky Heart” (which is the more horrific of the two? Take your pick). The episode also introduces two new characters into the fold: FBI Special Agents Miller (Robbie Amell) and Einstein (Lauren Ambrose), who essentially function as younger doppelgangers of Mulder and Scully themselves, and the show’s penchant for occasional self-parody. In the context of a standalone episode their inclusion in the series would be mildly amusing, but both return for the finale, My Struggle II – leading one to believe that Carter has a specific idea for how he wants to possibly continue the series in the future.

Mulder + Scully 2.0?
And that’s the main problem with The X-Files revival as a whole: that the “truth” is still locked in a vault inside Carter’s mind, and every new piece he adds to the overall puzzle only creates gaps in the bigger picture elsewhere. The man is an undisputed visionary and is directly responsible for some of the best episodes in the series’ entire run, but his involvement here feels excessive, as though he were trying to pack every idea he’s had since the season nine finale into a handful of self-contained storylines. The resulting revival has only glimpses of the show’s former brilliance, occurring mostly during simple interactions between Mulder and Scully – moments that are, sadly, few and far between. A continuation of the series is not guaranteed as far as anyone knows, unless Carter has something up his sleeve he hasn’t made public, and that is problematic for a revival event that concludes so irresolutely with an exasperating ambiguity. Do we even want to entertain the possibility of a season eleven? If it’s going to be anything like a majority of this revival, especially one that would focus more on Miller and Einstein’s ‘Mulder and Scully 2.0’ rather than the real thing, I’d personally be inclined to say “no.” And for an X-Phile who has always wanted to believe, that’s a sad truth indeed.

What did you think of Season 10 of the X-Files?