A (belated) review/reaction to X-File

Its strange to recall my own reactions to X-files. It actually debuted ‘before my time’ so I actually have little to no memeory of seeing the series originally – the weird thing is though, the show was so popular that it was everywhere, song lyrics references the lot.

X-Files Stagione 10: First look - Film 4 Life - Curiosi di ...

Also in hindsight its hard to overstate the influence X-files had on television. I’m not saying that the series invented these tropes and concepts but it very much contributed to popularizing them- things like sceptic/believer duos with romantic chemistry – monster-of-the-week versus mythology season formulas.

So even though the modern take on X-Files may be more jaded or controversial its certainly a television series worth knowing!

Anywho I first properly dove into the series in the late 00s in the hope of finally putting the overarching story to rest (LOL oh dear)!

SPOILERS AHEAD

As if anyone is unaware the mythology of the X-Files is considerably convoluted and complex which in itself isn’t a big problem however in my opinion its eventually downfalls make for quite strange picking from a story telling perspective.

You see, the original premise of X-Files is that since believing his sister was abducted by aliens in their childhood Mulder has been on a mission to find The Truth(TM). For the most part the plotlines of the early X-Files series are an interesting escalation of revealing Alien and human plots with Mulder and Scully getting increasingly involved and revealing more and more elements of the various schemes.

This is where I think the wheels start to wobble, X-Files has a hind of cosmic horror / HP Lovecraft element where the duo are often in the position of hapless mortals facing off against vast conspiracies and alien forces of unknown power. Quite often simply attempting to expose the truth and stay alive is all they can do. And this becomes a challenge for escalating the plot – there was a point during the original series where I started to wonder where on Earth the story could end up, as it seemed implausible that the pair would be able to do anything to prevent a powerful alien race taking over the Earth – Indepedence Day this series was not.

‘luckily’ something much more annoying happened. Towards the end of the original series run David Duchovony wanted to move on from the series and had a much limited part of Season 8, and was only in the finale of season 9. While this didn’t reset the mythology exactly it did prompt a sort of soft reboot of the series leading to a fizzling out of the plot rather than a determined conclusion. We were however promised an alien invastion in 2012…

Then for some reason a movie was released in 2008 bringing back the original duo. I still don’t understand the point of this movie, after an unresolved series finale why realease a random story??

Anyway the point of all this is come the end of X-Files I think many felt generally disappointed in the lack of finality with the whole thing.

woo boy SPOILERS AHEAD

Bring on the Revival Series. Basically X-Files came back. I for one was pretty excited, but didn’t get the chance to watch until the series Disney Star came out.

So watching them has been odd so say the least.

Contrary to many opinions I actually liked Season 10. There was a relatively massive retcon of the Alien plot basically completely revamping it to humans did everything with access to alien technology, the aliens themselves gave up on Earth. Now normally such a tweak to mythology of a series would be totally anathema to any credibility but hear me out – they needed a reasonable amount of explanation for why the Alien’s plan had been on hold all this time and probably needed a plot that better fitted the 2016-2018 era as well.

That said a lot in the series was a little clunky. It was implied but unclear just what had happend to the pair in the intervening time. Mulder it seems had become depressed, because his life’s work has become meaningless, Scully’s progress is even more unclear, she seems to have returned to being a sceptic. It’s confusing though because by the time the series ended there was no doubt for either of them that Aliens existed even if their schemes were unfathomable.

But in a strange way I didn’t mind the confusion because it sort of worked with a long period between stories. It makes sense that if Mulder lived reclusively for 15 years without any progress or encounters that he would begin to doubt everything. Similar if Scully had been working as a Doctor for the same time she may have started to doubt too.

What I found particularly poignant is the focus on their adopted out child William. There was a particularly somber episode where both Mulder and Scully daydream about life with their son that could have been. It was a sadder and more reflective take on the X-File than before.

People didn’t like the season finale – but I did (at the time) things really seemed to have escalated again and the world was in danger (pandemic whoops). Things were happening!

Cue the naughtiest technique in storytelling…

In the beginning of Season 11 we discover that the previous episode was simply a vision from Scully. The most annoying part being that a hilarious pair of baby Mulder and Scully agents introduced that season did not return. Season 11 is credited with some good standalone episodes but generally the mythology is panned completely – and its hard not to agree.

After years of conspiracy, threat of invasion, mystery after mystery we get yet another cliffhanger…

Although not really a cliffhanger per se.

Basically in a desperate search for their son, either Mulder or William slaughter the remaining conspiracy masterminds including the Cigarette Smoking Man (although he has come back to life several times) however believing William dead we are graced to a speach about he wasn’t really their son after all. But here we go:

Scully is pregnant.

(also William isn’t dead but w/e)

After the grandiose build-up of the series and the intense finale of Season 10, its not really fitting or interesting to fizzle out in such a way. In some respects I could understand a switch in perspective from a massive global conspiracy to a more human situation between our favourite agents and their child. But the season 11 ending literally felt like the team had run out of money or something. As a resolution, the assumption is with the mass slaughter that most of the conspiracies are now ended but it certainly doesn’t feel like anything is won.

It always sad to see a television series go out with a fizzle – however I think by 2021 the general collective is used to it. Between the Losts, and Game of Thrones, Dexters and others its seems that brilliant TV series endings are a rare thing indeed.

Has anyone else seen the recent X-File series – or fans of the older stuff? Thoughts??

2 thoughts on “A (belated) review/reaction to X-File

  1. I was reading a Reddit thread earlier about TV shows that started amazing and petered out. An apt observation someone made was that a lot of shows are greenlit based on a good first-season premise, get renewed because they’re popular, and so the writers have to come up with some way of continuing (to typically diminishing returns). Multi-season shows that have a clear endpoint and stick to it (see “Bad, the Breaking of”) maintain their quality, but most don’t.

    Interestingly, I don’t recall X-files being mentioned (in that thread), but maybe it’s more niche – like you said, the original was everywhere in the 90s, but I didn’t even know it had been continued.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I actually was in that very thread this weekend, and surprise X-File is in there (its possible a little too 90s for Reddit mostly though) Generally looking around the internet it seems that much consensus is the mythology of X-File is pretty dispised, although more and more people seem bigger fans of Monster of the Week episodes of much shows (e.g. Supernatural, X-Files, Dr Who) which is funny because I tend to prefer Mythos long running plots

      Like

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