Movies & TV / Columns

A Bloody Good Time: Maybe The X-Files Shouldn’t Have Come Back

January 12, 2018 | Posted by Joseph Lee
The X-Files

Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)

When the tenth season of The X-Files was announced, I was really excited. The ninth season didn’t end that well and the second movie never resolved any of the storylines that had been building over the course of the original run. I wanted some sort of proper resolution that didn’t leave things open-ended. I think anyone who stays with a show for that long wants to see the story end with more than “your main characters are on the run now, bye!”

Before the second film, that’s all fans had to go on. I’m not a fan of “The Truth” because it didn’t really do anything. It would have been fine as a season finale, which is what it eventually became, but not to end the whole show.

However now that we have the show back, I’m not as enthusiastic as I was a couple of years ago. I really wanted to give it a chance because it’s one of my favorite shows of all time. But the episodes that have aired since its return feel mostly like season nine and it has me feeling like maybe the show shouldn’t have come back at all. It’s not that I expected it to ever reach the heights of the first six seasons but, so far it’s very hit or miss.

So let me try to break down why I think maybe it’s time for The X-Files to end for good.

First of all, I’d really like to discuss the mess that was season ten, specifically the huge changes made to the main storyline. In my humble opinion, “My Struggle” and “My Struggle II” were easily the worst episodes of that unfortunately short season. And if you want my honest take “My Struggle III” wasn’t much better.

I noticed something off right away when the second we see Mulder and Skinner together, they’re at each others throats. I realize the two of them don’t get along all the time, that’s par for the course. But usually there’s something that sets them off. Mulder is in his face from the word go and it feels out of character. I realize at this point it had been eight years since the last film, so maybe it took a bit to get the feel of the characters back. However, it seems that this is more indicative of the entire season.

Everything feels off. It feels like a show pretending to be The X-Files that just happens to have the stars in it. More than that, it feels rushed. This applies mostly to the “My Struggle” episodes but it pops up in the rest of the season too. The story moves from point to point at a pace that makes it had to process initially. Moments don’t feel earned, they just happen and we’re expected to buy it because the characters are really intense.

At one point, Mulder and Scully have a conversation about conspiracies and believing and I swear it feels like a parody. It feels like something a sitcom writer having seen a few episodes of the show would have written to spoof it on their show. It’s the most generic, cliched dialogue I’ve seen on this show. I don’t want to bash the works of Chris Carter because he did give us this and Millennium, but at the same time, yeah man…you need to chill out.

I really wonder what the script for the third film was going to be. It was initially intended, according to rumors, to be the ultimate conclusion to the show and feature alien colonization finally happening. I wonder how much of the “My Struggle” episodes was in that script and I wonder how much story was removed or hastily rewritten to fit the TV episode format.

Which brings me to my next complaint about the revival and it’s a big one. I don’t care about the mythology anymore. In my opinion, they ruined it right away with the twist in “My Struggle.” That is, according to the show now, there never were any aliens. Oh sure, there were some in the history of the world, but aliens never landed or showed up on the original show. It was all a conspiracy by the government using alien technology to keep humanity in line and control the world. Or something to that effect.

Not only does that feel like a copout, but it feels like an obvious change that had to be made once the 2012 deadline passed and the third movie had not arrived. There had to be an explaination for why alien colonization didn’t happen, I’m not faulting them for that. But this explaination essentially tells the viewer that everything they saw in the preceeding nine seasons (and two movies) was a load of nothing. Also it’s full of plotholes out of the wazoo. If there were never any aliens, how do you explain the black oil? Multiple ships and abductions? Samantha Mulder’s clone? The ACTUAL ALIENS that appeared on the show, including the very memorable alien bounty hunter?

There is no explanation. Instead, it’s all swept under the rug as one big government conspiracy after they met aliens once. You know, as convoluted as the mytharc eventually got, at least I could follow it. This just dumps years of plot in the trash to try and explain something that could have been done with a simple line or two. “We were wrong about the date” or “the Syndicate extended the timeline to better prepare” or something similar. Instead we’ve got Mulder screaming at Scully about a conspiracy of men and alien DNA like this has been the case all along.

It’s insulting as a fan and it’s why I have stopped caring about the main story. My Struggle II was even worse, as it shoves a huge worldwide scheme from the Smoking Man into 45 minutes, a storyline that could have taken place over an entire season. I’m not a big famous Hollywood scriptwriter, but I know a poorly-told story when I see it. “My Struggle III” felt like a big mea culpa for how season ten ended, essentially retconning it as a vision Scully had. And don’t get me started on the fact that Mulder and William are apparently brothers now.

So yeah, the main story, which was made up of “My Struggle” episodes in seasons ten and eleven, have done nothing for me. Since the conspiracies of The X-Files are a huge selling point, that’s a bad thing. We should be ready for the next little twist in the mystery and with the end apparently in sight, getting closer to solving it.

The truth is out there, but I don’t think Chris Carter knows what that truth is. I don’t think he knows how to write an end of the show. It’s probably why he said that he didn’t write the last episode of the season as a finale. Of course he’s since said that he won’t do the show anymore without her, so I guess we’re going to end things with more questions than answers yet again.

Look, it’s not that I’m suddenly on the bandwagon of hating The X-Files. I’m a huge fan of the show, and probably will keep watching until they stop making them. And season ten did have a highlight or two. “Founder’s Mutation” and “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” felt like at least season six episodes, if not as strong as the show’s heyday. I also enjoy all the callbacks and winks to what came before.

However, The X-Files used to be appointment television when I grew up, and I used to binge it when it started hitting DVD. Now when an episode comes out, I feel fine with waiting to catch it on Hulu at my convinence and that has nothing to do with skipping commercials.

I’ll say that while I’m not hopeful that the series will end again on a satisfactory note, we do have eight more episodes this season which could still entertain. Being a true fan of something doesn’t always mean blind devotion. Sometimes it means recognizing when something you love is dropping in quality and wanting it to end on a high note.

What about you? Do you agree that the time for The X-Files has come and gone? Do you like the changes they’ve made? Or are you like me and going to watch regardless of how much it sometimes irritates you these days? Let me know in the comments and let’s discuss.

Ending Notes:

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Closing Logo courtesy of Kyle Morton (get your own custom artwork and commissions at his Etsy account)

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