OPINION: The X-Files, Season 10 – The Nostalgia Was Out There | FanboysInc

OPINION: The X-Files, Season 10 – The Nostalgia Was Out There

By Jeff Ayers

OPINION: X-Files - The Nostalgia Was Out There

By now, we have all come out the other side of the black hole that was the newest season of The X-Files. As the dust settles from this newly minted Season 10, the big question on everyone’s mind who watched it is: Was it worth it? Was the nostalgia from the original series enough to fuel this six episode “revisit” of the characters and themes we hold so dear in our memories?

The reviews are in, and the season scored a lukewarm reception at best. (If you want to read my reviews on FanboysInc, you can check out My Struggle, Founder’s Mutation, Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster, Home Again, Babylon, and My Struggle II). I gave out similar scores to the rest, and it seems we all felt a little cheated by this “attempt” at a Season 10 of this fan favorite Fox series. The big questions remain though: Why did this season end up the way it did? Are you happy with the results? Is anyone? Let’s look a little deeper into what happened.

WE LOVE WHAT WE LOVE

Nostalgia seems to be the name of the game in television and movies nowadays. With movie properties borrowing from the past, like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, and G.I. Joe peppering the box office, and even television bringing back shows like Twin Peaks, Full(er) House, and a whole slew of Nickelodeon properties, it is a wonder if there is any new ideas in entertainment anymore. But we love what we “loved”, and we want to see, watch, and experience that all over again. The old adage comes to mind though, that “you can never go home again”. This rings true over and over as studios and production companies try to resurrect beloved properties, and they just aren’t the same anymore. Even The Muppets are back on television, and their new show, while endearing because of the tried and true characters that inhabit it, has been panned by critics in its first season.

The X-Files seemed like it was done and buried, with a dismal last few seasons ending in 2002. David Duchovny had left the show in season 7, and returned for the series finale, but a little too late to help bring the show back to its former glory. Then, in 2008, fans got what they hoped would be a return to form with the second full length feature film, X-Files: I Want to Believe. But, for some strange reason, the creative team decided to NOT deal with the over-arching alien conspiracy story that had been fleshed out in the series, and instead went with a stand alone horror/thriller angle. The film got a lot of negative reviews because of that, and retains a low 31% rating on Rotten Tomatoes to this day.

Even with all this negativity, the fandom of The X-Files still wanted to see Mulder and Scully back in action again. So much was left unsaid, and because of the mysterious nature of the series, so many questions still remained about the various conspiracies presented in the show. Rumblings began to surface in 2014 that not only was there a real longing for the show to return, but that there might be ways to make it a reality. At New York Comic Con that year, both Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were on a panel to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the show. The main hall was packed to capacity with fans, and both actors were jovial and playful with each other, reminiscing about the show and their characters. Sitting in that room, you could feel the charged emotion permeating from all corners, and Duchovny rallied us all to sing Happy Birthday to the series creator, Chris Carter, which he filmed on his phone. A young man even used his “fan question” to propose to his girlfriend, who said yes, and the pair were used on stage to receive hugs from their favorite TV stars.

Then, in January of 2015, Gillian Anderson was a guest on the Nerdist Podcast, where of course she talked about her time on The X-Files. Host Chris Hardwick, also a big fan, asked her if she would ever do the show again, and she said she would as long as David and Chris (Carter) were involved. Hardwick then urged his large number of listeners to take to social media with the hashtag #XFILES2015 to show their support. That trended for a few days, and got the attention of a lot of major news sources. All of this hype, whether premeditated or not, snowballed to the announcement in March of 2015 that FOX television was ordering six new episodes, with the return of Chris Carter at the helm, as well as main characters Fox Mulder (Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). All that were involved spoke highly of the new season, talking about how it would be a return to form and give fans what they wanted, and the pot was sweetened even further as it was announced Mitch Pileggi as Assistant Director Skinner, William B. Davis as Cigarette Smoking Man, and even The Lone Gunman would all return as well.

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TRUST NO ONE

In January of 2016, The X-Files returned to television, on the same channel it started on. The FOX network was in its infant stages when the series premiered in 1993, and it is even rumored that is one of the reasons Mulder’s first name turned out to be “Fox”, in an effort to create more awareness for the budding channel. But in the present day, the FOX Network is a powerhouse, a television empire that not only delivers consistently high charting programming, but also leads viewerships in both news and sports. So to bring The X-Files back at this time, one of its first-ever hit shows, would only bolster its already impressive TV lineup, right?

All the pieces were in play, and only the game was left to be played and won by those involved. Both Anderson and Duchovny did their rounds on the late night talk shows and the press junkets, saying how proud they were of the show and the work they did. We all eagerly drank the Kool Aid, and settled in to watch how these six episodes might unfold, with our hopes held collectively high. But I feel something went terribly wrong.

Upon looking back at the six episodes from Season 10, I feel like once again, the fanbase was cheated out of what they truly desire: answers, and a little bit of closure. If you want to relieve each episode, you can click through my reviews at the top of this article, or check out the countless others from my contemporaries at Variety, A.V. Club, New York Times, and more. We all felt the same way – there was some really good moments throughout the six episodes, but not enough to make this season a winner. In fact, there weren’t enough good moments to even stitch together a compelling narrative, as the show decided to bookend the season with two episodes dealing with the alien conspiracy theme (My Struggle and My Struggle II), and the other four were “monster-of-the-week” stand alone episodes. While those monster type stories worked well in the original series, and some are still fan favorites to this day, it is slightly confusing as to why they went this route with this new season, especially with no “season 11” even being talked about as of the publication of this article.

The series opens with a look at where Mulder and Scully are in 2016, and neither technically work for the FBI anymore. (Although it seems like the FBI is a clandestine organization, and they are back in the fold in no time). The first episode establishes the exciting themes again of “Trust No One” and “The Truth is Out There”, but then devolves into stories that have absolutely nothing to do with that narrative. If both Mulder and Scully don’t work for The X-Files anymore, let alone the FBI, why should we care about them handing “strange and bizarre” cases again? I will even admit, the third episode titled “Mulder and Scully Meet The Were-Monster” was a refreshing and fun take on the series and its characters, but it was a totally unneeded hour within six hours of storytelling. The series ends on a horrendous cliffhanger, with new agents, Miller and Einstein, taking some of the heavy lifting from Mulder and Scully, and also thematic sequences involving chem-trails, aliens, government conspiracy, and Mulder and Scully’s son William, who is never seen, but teased ad nauseam. The final moments of the series shows a sick Mulder, who is infected just like the rest of the world, and needs stem cells from William, who Scully desperately wants to find with the help of Agent Miller, just as a UFO shows up and…….fade to credits. A perfectly incredible season cliffhanger, especially in the vein of a show like The X-Files, but only if there are more seasons to be had.

THIS IS THE END

The final episode showed “This Is The End” during the title sequence, where the usual “The Truth is Out There” is prominently displayed. In all honesty, I kind of hope that is the actual truth. I have been a fan of this show since the very first episode. My mother and I used to ritualistically watch it every week, and pray that it would return for the next season. (Remember: For the first three seasons, it was never a sure thing for the show to return, because of the shaky ground that the new FOX Network stood on). I couldn’t believe that it was going to come back once again in 2016 and with so many original cast and crew. Yet, the secondary characters of the Cigarette Smoking Man and Walter Skinner were horribly underused, and The Lone Gunman appeared in a brief drug trip that Mulder underwent, to absolutely no fanfare for such fan favorite characters. With only six episodes to strut their stuff, The X-Files should have buckled down and created a compelling, six-hour television event that had everyone talking about it for the entire year afterwards. Instead, we got a few good moments, maybe a good episode or tow in the bunch, and a mediocre feeling in our gut once again when it was completed. Who knows, maybe FOX will option more episodes, for a Season 11, and all of these misgivings will finally be alleviated. Yet, you can really never go home again, and nothing will be exactly the way you remember it being. Maybe we all have learned our lesson, and we should move on, knowing that the truth may indeed be out there, but we will never get it in full.

Jeff Ayers

Both my parents instilled in me at an early age the awesome power and incredible wonder of the written word. My father sat with me when I was four years old and taught me to enjoy reading with classic comic strips like SPIDERMAN, PEANUTS, B.C. and, later, CALVIN AND HOBBES. My mother exposed me to such classics of literature as Poe, Tolkien, Stoker and Doyle, and I started my own comic collection with allowance money from mowing lawns. I liked Wolverine before it was cool, I watched as Superman died and returned, and huddled under the covers as I turned the pages of SANDMAN. Reading is like oxygen to me, and all genres and formats are welcome and devoured equally. I am the co-host of The DW and Incredible Jeff Show, CEO of Permian Productions, and a reviewer at Graphic Novel Reporter. I am 34 and live in scenic Saratoga Springs New York, where I haunt coffee shops and dive bars and the best comic shop anywhere, The Comic Depot.

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