The ‘X-Files’ Season 10 Premiere Part 1 Review
The ‘X-Files’ Season 10 Premiere Part 1 Review
Mulder (David Duchonvy) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) are back on the television with a limited run series. The special two-night premiere began in a coveted post-football timeslot as the former FBI partners were reunited on a new case, brought to them by a conservative talk show host named Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale), who gets under their skin right away.
This review contains spoilers for S10E01 of The X-Files. If you haven’t watched, read at your own risk.
Found footage combined with historical video. After Mulder’s voiceover provides a series recap, he also gives us a rundown on aliens from a historical standpoint. The series combines actual historical video with “home video” footage of UFO sightings for much of Mulder’s voiceover. While we know the show is science fiction, it adds an air of authenticity to the drama, something the series didn’t really do in the early 90s. It’s a sign of how things have changed in television - for the better.
Modern technology. I’m not just talking about Mulder and Scully having cooler cell phones here or the internet being more easily accessible today. I’m talking about the behind-the-scenes technology. One of the ways The X-Files kept its air of mystery in the early 90s was in using blurry or shadowed shots of “aliens” during its conspiracy episodes. Really, this just mean using less lighting or blinding the audience with spotlights so they couldn’t tell what was on the screen. It also meant that the effects crew didn’t have to make quite as detailed alien beings or spaceships, nothing like the impressive footage we get right out of the gate in this episode. Technology in TV has come so far in the last 20 years, and the mind races at what The X-Files could do with modern tech.
So many nods to the original series. The season premiere for the limited run is very clearly for the fans. If you’ve never seen an episode of the original series, chances are you’ll enjoy it, but you might not pick up on all the nods that are there for those who did watch in the 90s. I’ve got as many as I could catch laid out farther down. Suffice to say, the show has remembered all the things fans loved about the original.
Mulder is angry. While Mulder was smug and sarcastic in the early seasons of the show, the Mulder we see here is weathered and tired of being jerked around and lied to. He’s tired of uncovering “truth,” only to be pulled in another direction or told that truth was simply covering up another. We can’t blame this Mulder who wants so badly to uncover a conspiracy, not because he needs to uncover a personal truth, but because he feels like he’s earned it at this point.
The layout of the conspiracy theories. One of the best moments in the episode occurs as Mulder, followed by Tad, lays out a conspiracy that goes back generations, leading to a takeover of the earth. It’s so cleanly done and well thought out, taking into account every major change we’ve seen on the planet in the last few decades, that it hit me that this is why The X-Files can work after being off the air for 14 years. The real life events that the show alludes to in this sequence prove that this is the perfect time to revive the show. As an audience, we all want to believe in the conspiracy.
“They’ve reopened the X-Files.” The words every audience member has been waiting to hear for a decade, coming from the mouth of the Cigarette Smoking Man himself. This shadowy figure is sure to be making trouble, and he still has his signature cigarettes, even if he can’t smoke them the same way he used to. What a great way to close out the first hour.
Scully is just a tad too skeptical. After everything she’s been through with The X-Files, and everything she’s lost as a result, you’d think at this point in her life that her instinct wouldn’t be to refute the conspiracies as they’re explained to her, but to think them through. She was a little too season one Scully here for me. I understand the reasoning is that she’s always been the skeptic to Mulder’s believer, but it felt like she was a step back too far.
The Fan Nods
The opening sequence. The first few minutes of the show hit you with a bunch of photographs as Mulder recaps his life with the X-Files. Those photographs are stills from the original series. Superfans will recognize shots of some of the most iconic people and moments on the show, like Toombs, an X-Files monster-of-the-week who came back for more over multiple seasons of the show.
Mulder’s wall. Mulder doesn’t have an office in the FBI basement anymore when the series starts, but some of this pictures are up on the wall of his house, including the iconic I Want To Believe poster with the flying saucer that was a mainstay on his office wall. He even joked to Scully in one early episode that he bought it at a head shop down the street from the FBI building.
“I only want to believe.” Mulder stresses that he still isn’t a firm believer, but that he wants to be one. This was the running theme of the original series as he searched for the truth, not just about aliens, but about any number of mythical creatures.
The Kelly Cahill Incident. This incident, which Mulder asks Tad to explain to him, is a real alien abduction story out of Australia. Kelly Cahill and her family did claim to lose time and witness aliens on a road trip in 1993. It’s one of the most well known UFO stories in history. It’s right in line with the original show, which did take many real accounts and urban legends to inspire plot points.
Sveta. Pretty much everything about Sveta’s story of being abducted, having her children taken from her, being “harvested,” the idea of an alien conspiracy being confused with government experiments - all of this can be traced back to some of the earliest arcs of the show. Scully, at the end of the first season, was abducted, supposedly by aliens, and used in experiments. Her memories of the experience were altered, leaving her confused about what really happened. That storyline would inform much of what happened with Scully throughout the events of the show.
Pencils in the ceiling. When Skinner takes Mulder into his old basement office, we see evidence of Mulder having been one of the last occupants. Whenever he was bored when Scully was out of the office in the original series, he was forever playing with pencils, even tossing them in the ceiling tiles to see if they would stick.
“...warring aliens lighting each other on fire.” The event described with some degree of sarcasm from Mulder’s source (supposedly a scientist at the Roswell “crash”) refers to the events that closed out season five of the series as a group of men at the center of the alien conspiracy were burned alive by a group of what was supposedly alien beings. The conspiracists were meant to have aligned with another group of aliens that had been frequenting the planet. As the show went on the, the conspiracy deepened.
“The truth is out there.” The original tagline for the series, and still the most iconic phrase associated with the show today. Of course it gets spoken in the episode.
Are Mulder and Tad right? This is likely going to be the biggest question of the six episodes as we move forward. Is their theory correct? Or is something else going on?
Who killed Sveta? Government operatives? The military? Aliens? Members of the conspiracy? Will we ever know?
Is Mulder and Scully’s son okay? We get a few mentions of their child in this episode, and the reminder that Scully (and therefore her offspring) have changed DNA, just like Sveta. Chances are, we’ll be seeing him soon.
The Verdict: The nostalgia alone made me love the first hour of the series. The show went a long way in making the phrase “everything old is new again” come to life with its first step in the revival. Chris Carter and company managed to take everything that was great about the original show and fit it right into the modern age. I feel like they haven’t missed a beat. And I can’t wait to unravel more of the mythology and see the monsters-of-the-week. A