Fans of The X-Files are grateful to have Mulder and Scully back. But season 10, the return, wasn’t the X-Files we remember. It’s been 13 years since The X-Files closed in 2002 less than a year after 9/11. And the world has changed considerably. How then does a writer take into account the last decade when writing a conspiracy-laden TV show? You certainly don’t do what Chris Carter and Vince Gilligan did for season 10 of The X-Files. Adding on thick layers of political commentary to a show that only ever subtly covered real-world politics isn’t the best move. In season 10, Mulder and Scully seemed like characters just taken out of cryosleep and shoved into our unfamiliar world. That certainly would have been a better plot than the strange Snowden-laden conspiracy plot of season 10. But thankfully, season 11 gracefully passes on from the faux-pax of last season and returns to its subtle, ironic, and intense form.
1. “My Struggle III” Hits All the Right Buttons
Season 10 ends with an abduction. Fans feared that Gillian Anderson would remain missing from the next season like Fox Mulder through several seasons of the original series. Thankfully, she’s back in season 11. While Scully spends a small amount of time in a coma throughout “My Struggle III,” she awakens and becomes the stubborn Dana Scully we’ve always known.
The plot in “My Struggle III” revolves around two factions. Both are remnants of old factions from the original series. And both represent separate conspiracies. (We’re collection conspiracies like we would collect baseball trading pins here.) The smoking man heads one conspiracy to fight the aliens and the mysterious Mr. Y heads another conspiracy to build colonize the universe and avoid the aliens in some fashion.
There is a temptation for Mulder to join Mr. Y and a temptation for Skinner to join the Smoking Man. And Scully is caught in the middle having experienced a vision of the future that involves her hidden son. The entire episode hits all the right buttons, deep conspiracies connected to the overarching plot, believable personal conflict for all of the main characters, and any real-world politics are left on the back-burner.
At the end of episode one, we’re begging for more.
2. “This” is a Standalone and Not at the Same Time
The original series could easily be split into two categories. “Overarching Plot” and “Monster of the Week.” The best episodes in the series always blended the two, introducing cool new weirdness and another plot point edging us closer to “The Truth“. Episode 2 of season 11 “This” could be considered a blended episode. It continues the story set out in episode 1. Mulder and Scully get to feel out Skinner’s involvement in the conspiracy and whether he’s with them or against them.
But the “Monster of the Week” connects back to the original series and brings back someone we all thought was dead. Richard Langly. For the first half of the episode, you’re left wondering if Carter retconned the Lone Gunman’s death. There is mention of the fact we never actually see their dead bodies due to hazmat containment and cremation. And Skinner dodges the question when Scully asks if Langly is actually dead.
But we quickly find out that, yes, in fact, our Langly is actually dead. His consciousness or at least a copy of it is on a computer server in some building fresh out of the Cold War. It turns out that Erika Price, Mr. Y’s other half, is behind some secret digital heaven where rich people can upload their consciousness and “live forever.”
Langly used the web to reach out to Mulder and Scully through Mulder’s cell phone and implore him to destroy the servers where he’s kept. The rest of the episode is a race to find a way into the building and disable the servers. The events are classic X-Files fare with Mulder and Scully bluffing their way into a secure building, Scully breaking glass and jimmying the off switch on several futuristic looking servers (She really should have just busted all the fans and overheated the servers).
What Comes Next?
Whatever comes next will either make or break the X-Files brand. But if you ask most fans, they’re all pretty satisfied with what’s happened so far.
Catch The X-Files for the rest of the month on Wednesdays at 8/7 Central. And check out more TVOvermind.com articles for some more X-Files info.