Well X-File fans, we’re three episodes in. There are many in depth reviews online, but I wanted to take a moment to say thanks to Chris Carter and encourage everyone to check it out, as well as share some observations with other fans.
At this point I know one thing for sure—Fox Mulder is the reason I fall for conspiracy theories. From the first episode in 1992 until the beginning of 1999, when I gave birth to my first son and no longer had time for TV, I faithfully spent my Sunday nights with the man. And now, almost seventeen years later, I realize that most of the crazy ideas running around in his head, are the same ones running around in mine!
Chris Carter’s series shaped an entire generation, creating a group of highly intelligent, sort of geeky fans who also now suspect EVERYTHING their government does. Maybe this was Carter’s goal? Perhaps his life mission is to use story to wake us up? Or maybe it’s just that doubt sells. Regardless, as agents Mulder and Scully grace our screens once more, it has never been more apparent to me that this series has had a huge influence on our public dialogue.
Like many, I celebrated the day I heard about the six episode treat. Yet I’m an X-Files fan, so I was also skeptical. Turns out that at the half way point, I’m incredibly pleased. Rather than pander to the more modern viewing tastes, the new X-Files have stayed true to the feel, intention and even rhythm of the original show.
Most important of course is the fact that the core actors are the same. Mulder, Scully as well as Skinner and the smoking man (who now has to smoke out of his tracheotomy). Yet each one has changed in reasonable and important ways. Mulder is well, a middle aged man. He’s spent the past 15 years in his home browsing the internet and now that he’s called back out to work on the X-Files, his solitude and loneliness are key to his behavior. He now doubts all he once believed, and yet…what if he was right all the long?
For her part, Scully has also aged predictably into her midlife. And like most women, is doing it very well, having spent the last 15 years working in a hospital helping disabled children. She’s still the formal, science minded part of the pair, but something is different. She has a light in her eyes and even a sense of humor. *
Fans of the original X-Files will love how familiar everything is. Particularly with the pacing. The original series consisted of one long story arc based on Fox Mulder’s missing sister and the governmental conspiracy behind it. This story line carried the entire 10 years, with about half of the episodes relating to it. Yet there were also the random scary creature episodes as well. These isolated episodes were often filled with science and science fiction and the two agents debating the entire time as to what’s real and what’s just a hoax, with the creature only revealing itself to Mulder.
It appears that Carter has kept this pacing and given those of us who love the story exactly what we’d expect—a few episodes focusing on the overall story arc and a few monster ones as well. Even the opening credits are untouched and perfect in their Smithsonian, blast from the past feel.
The new series opens with a famous, right winged, conspiracy theorist host of a popular internet show threatening to blow the whistle on the entire alien conspiracy theory and how it relates to 9-11. When Skinner at the FBI office is faced with this, he reopens the X-Files and calls in Scully and Mulder from retirement. Right off the bat, Carter brings us back into the basic overall story line—that alien abduction is real and your government knows, or even perpetrates, it. New revelations with regards to gene therapy, alien DNA and genetic manipulation (with an Avengers/X Men feel), as well as references to Fox and Dana’s baby, William, whom they gave up for his safety near the end of the original series run.
The episode last night rewarded viewers with a monster story—but with a twist! In this case the monster is the one who’s violated and forced to become human. In the middle of it all, Mulder goes through an existential crisis and Scully manages to pull off arresting the bad buy all on her own.*
There are a few changes as well, namely that the gore factor is higher. Now we get to see the bodily harm of the monster’s victims and nothing is left to the imagination during Scully’s autopsies. Like I posted on Twitter, the new X-Files is the same paranormal fun + all the gore Fox will allow. In addition, while the dialogue between Scully and Mulder is still your typical fantastical vs. reason banter, they’re both sassier. I call it the post-Jon Stewart sarcasm that seems to have inserted itself in our common vernacular.
Yet the love and honor each feels for the other is still apparent, and that my friends, is the key ingredient. The one element Carter couldn’t have left out.
I can’t wait until next Monday to sit on the couch with my husband, just like we used to when we first started dating, and see what happens next.
* yes, I do hope Scully's immortal ;-)