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The X-Files 11.2 Review – ‘This’

January 10, 2018 | Posted by Wednesday Lee Friday
The X-Files - This
8.5
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The X-Files 11.2 Review – ‘This’  

I prefer to avoid too much spoilery internet talk about new seasons of upcoming TV shows. But after last week’s sucky opening episode, I looked into what we can expect in the rest of the season. We’ve got a total of ten eps this season, and only two of them will revolve around the central mythos of finding William, foiling the Cigarette Smoking Man, and saving the world from…alien illuminati or whatever. In addition to seven so-called Monster-of-the-Week eps, we’re also due one black comedy episode. Those are my favorite, and I imagine I’m not alone in this. #Pie Spoilers follow for S11E2: “This.”

Having said all that, “This” absolutely furthered the mythos of Cigarette Smoking Man and his sinister machinations. Honestly, does that guy ever engage in any other kind of machinations? Of course the big news in this episode is the untimely return (or “return” if you will) of Ringo Langley, one of the three Lone Gunmen who purportedly died long ago. I had heard someone was returning from the past this week. When I saw Russians in the promos—I was hoping for Krycek.

We begin with our favorite pair, apparently chilling to some Netflix or something. Scully is the first to notice that Mulder’s phone is…well, it’s not ringing, but it is trying to get his attention. It’s Langley! But—how can that be? And where’s Frohike? I could give a crap about Byers—but Frohike was hilarious. Langley isn’t sure if he’s dead or not, and refers to a ‘they’ who ‘know.’ Not exactly a shocker, given the milieu. As the pair fight off attackers, we’re handed some fun trivia like Scully’s ID number, and Mulder’s new address. We’re also treated to another round of ‘Can Skinner be Trusted?’ On the one hand, how can they not trust anyone who’s had their backs as long as Skinner? On the other—Monica Reyes is evil, and we’ve known her almost as long. What if Skinner turned out to be some guy named Armin Tanzarian all along? That would be crazy…

“This” reminds us that even if Mulder and Scully didn’t follow any leads, contact anyone, or even pick up an old X-file to give it a skim—trouble would still find them. Not only is their “only kid who can save the world” son going to find them at some point—but “Purlieu Services” wants them dead. There doesn’t seem to be a way for them to actually keep their noses clean. One of many reasons it’s sad that Gillian Anderson is leaving the show after this season—which almost certainly means the end of it. (She’s leaving American Gods too, so it’s a bad year for her fans). The pair manage to elude their would-be killers, but leave one long-haired freak alive. He’s intent on killing them. Do we think fans would watch an X-Files spinoff featuring Agents Einstein and Kyd Miller?

Lots of political commentary to be had this week. For starters, our government is working closely with the Russians. The “White House” doesn’t get along with the FBI. Reference is made to Mueller as a straight-shooter, and the Snowden leaks are mentioned as well. They left out the name of our Commander in Chief, probably because they know how much he loves being mentioned. As Mulder and Scully find Langley’s (girl)friend Hamby, we learn that—like the show Inhumans (or last season’s Agents of SHEILD)—a giant company is uploading human consciousness and personalities into a computer mainframe that’s meant to outlast physical bodies. It’s meant to be the closest thing we can achieve to immortality—not that humanity deserves it. Hamby is killed by the long-haired freak, who is then killed by Mulder.

Langley, believed to be dead with the rest of the Lone Gunmen, is actually trapped in this mainframe. Even though it seems cool, it sucks because of its fakeness. Along the way, we learn that Deep Throat had a name (which I won’t write here for my own protection LOL) and that Mulder has been watching a bit of FOX’s Sleepy Hollow if his suddenly finding modern clues in old graves is any indication. Does Scully not carry a phone? There was no reason it should take that long just to find a device that can read a QR code. We also learned that grown-men aren’t opposed to using the term “spank bank” even when it’s accompanied by pics of real women they know in real life. Ew.

Eventually, Barbara Hershey explains that Purlieu and their mainframe are part of CSM’s giant plan to kill basically everyone on Earth. To their thinking, what we call evolution is a pattern of life springing up, growing, declining, and then being replaced by another. We humans will be replaced by computerized consciousness…unless there’s an EMP or a magnet or some lightning or something. Langley implores that the mainframe be shut down—that it’s torture and awful and Steve Jobs is bored. Where is it? Some place called Titanpoint. I get the feeling that there are a jillion other references I should be picking up on—building names, inscriptions on tombstones, etc. Even if I had a research team, I don’t think I could parse all of it. It’s clear though, that this lady has more respect for Fox than she did initially. Will that save him? Is killing Mulder and/or Scully the only way the series could end? Would we even believe it?

Plenty of fine banter this week. Scully’s crack about Mulder working well with his hands tied behind his back was solid. Mulder’s jape about everyone seeing him in their dreams…I won’t say that didn’t cut a little close to home. Not sure I know any straight ladies of a certain age who didn’t go through a Duchovny phase in the 90s. It’s cute that Mulder thinks the X-Files belong to him, rather than to the FBI at large. Come on, seriously? Didn’t other Feds trash his office like, a dozen times during the original series run?

Ultimately, Scully unplugs the mainframe (in a way that made me think she might get stuck in there with it). But by the time she and Mulder find each other and get a handle on things, the hardware has disappeared…along with Barbara Hershey. Hamby gives us a clue in her dialogue with Mulder: “Memory isn’t erased, just suppressed.” She’s essentially saying that they can get the information back if they want it. It’ll just take time. Plus, what’s up with that skeevy agent saying all that creepy business to Scully? Ew.

“This” closes with an idea that Ringo might be okay, along with others in the mainframe. Heck, Hamby could even be there. But what’s it really like living in a simulation? Is it boring? Maddening? These are the questions we’re meant to answer ourselves after the ep is over. But wait–there’s more.

Langley is afraid, upset, clearly in danger. Oh no! It’s the long-haired freak, who must be in there because he’s dead. Ahhh, dang. What we’re really left with is the vague sense that CSM’s plan is moving ahead unabated, and that Mulder and Scully’s victories are more symbolic than practical. But hey, plenty more to see this season. They certainly can’t leave Ringo in there like THAT. I now want him to be in there, happily, with Hamby. As for me, I’m also reviewing Black Lightning starting next week, right here at 411 Mania.

See you’s next week!

8.5
The final score: review Very Good
The 411
X-Files returned for its second S11 episode, this time bringing murder-attempts, intrigue, and more of that Mulder/Scully banter we love so well. I'm glad they've come to understand that The Lone Gunmen are not just fan favorites, but essential elements of this beloved show. Without Frohike though, it's kinda meaningless. Thanks for the Ramones music!
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