The X-Files: My Struggle

Case: Mulder and Scully reunite fourteen years after the X-Files have been shut down.

Destination: Roswell, New Mexico (1947); Washington, D.C.; Low Moor, Virginia

“But we must ask ourselves, are they really a hoax? Are we truly alone? Or, are we being lied to?”

To quote the master of never ending stories, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

To say that I have been excited about the revival of what is arguably my favorite show ever is putting it mildly. Ever since the official announcement, I have been greedily scouring the internet for tidbits of gossip while doing my best to avoid spoilers of any kind. As I sat down to watch the first episode of this new season, my level of excitement was ridiculously high.

That high carried through the first part of the episode. Listening to Mulder’s voiceover and looking at all those photos, watching a spaceship crash into the desert, and then listening to that oh so familiar theme music and watching those oh so familiar credits bought tears to my eyes. For a few brief minutes, I believed.

Like that spaceship in the cold open, however, I came crashing to earth. Tad O’Malley is a terrible character and it just doesn’t ring true that it would be he that brought our duo back together. Even Mulder and Scully can’t quite take him seriously at first. And, if you didn’t see the Sveta backtrack coming, you weren’t paying attention. Mulder actually calls her on it before choosing to believe.

As the episode unfolds, it becomes clear that Carter and Crew are starting again. They are throwing away all the old mythology and trying to come up with something new. That may not be a bad thing if they can pull it off. In fact, I’m kind of interested to see where they may go with this government taking over the world thing. Unfortunately, I have been through enough mythology reboots with this show to be Scully-esque in my cynicism that they can pull it off.

There was a fair amount of this episode that had a been there/done that feel. The Doctor as Deep Throat was irksome. I’m over Mulder’s sources being so cryptic and unwilling to tell him the unvarnished truth. And, I’m not sure Carter could have written more exposition if he had tried.

Now, enough whining. Let’s move on to what’s really important -- the Mulder and Scully dynamic. As always, it was watching these two together that was the emotional soul of this episode. The first time we see them together, on the street, was moving as hell. In one brief exchange, we learn that they are no longer together, that seeing Mulder the way he is brings Scully nearly to tears, and that Mulder misses her and is hiding that fact behind his usual snark. It is not accidental when he quotes part of the marriage vows to her to make his point.

Both of them are in a pretty bad way. Mulder is a mess and has been for some time. We are told that he is suffering from endogenous depression which explains his apathy, his appearance, and his general malaise. Until, that is, he catches the scent of The Truth again. All of a sudden, the old Mulder is back, demanding answers and pushing back against any opposition.

Even Scully, who clearly is trying to live some kind of life, is desperately unhappy. She has always been reserved and cautious, but she now seems to be completely closed off. Her initial conversation with Sveta is telling. Scully challenges the young woman at every turn and very nearly gets in her face when Sveta tells her she doesn’t know what it means to be an abductee. Of course, she doesn’t get confrontational, but the look on her face is one we haven’t seen often.

Once again, it is the power of the friendship between these two that brings everything together and keeps this episode from completely going around the bend. Their final scene, in the garage, was simply lovely and brought tears to my eyes again. They may both be unhappy; they may both want something else from their lives, but damn it, they can’t stay away from each other or their search.

The show took a dip there in the middle, but the ending was fabulous. I gasped as CSM sat there and announced that the X-Files had been re-opened. We’re back!

Other Thoughts

-- People much more observant than I, or who have much more time than I, have listed all of the Easter Eggs and references in this first episode. If you are interested, do a Google search and read away. My favorite were the pencils still hanging from the office ceiling.

-- Being the trusting soul I am, I had to look up false flag conspiracy.

-- I think O’Malley managed to reference every conspiracy currently making the rounds. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but the clips that Chris Carter chose during that scene were chilling.

-- The cinematography was second to none. The opening shot of the crash, the panning shot under the ARV, and Sveta’s death were all beautifully filmed.


Mulder: “Tell Skinner to set it up.”
Scully: “Seriously?”
Mulder: “And, don’t pretend I’m going alone.”

Mulder: “No, I only want to believe. Actual proof has been strangely hard to come by.”

Scully: “As a scientist, it was probably some of the most intense and challenging work I’ve ever done. I’ve never felt so alive.”
O’Malley: “You mean working with Mulder.”
Scully: “Possibly one of the most intense and challenging relationships I may ever have. And, quite honesty, the most impossible.”

Doctor: “Because, you weren’t even close. Warring aliens lighting each other on fire and other such nonsense.”

Mulder: “Scully, are you ready for this?”
Scully: “I don’t know there’s a choice.”

Final Analysis: An episode that had its weaknesses, but I’m willing to overlook them just to spend time with my favorite duo ever.

ChrisB is an X-Phile who may be more forgiving than she should be.


Docnaz said...

A detail my husband noticed that I did not on first viewing was Mulder's taped over camera on his lap top. Great attention to details.

Josie Kafka said...

Docnaz, I noticed that right away, but only because I do that to my laptop, too. I felt sort of foolish after seeing Mulder do it. (Or am I just more enlightened?)

I think O’Malley managed to reference every conspiracy currently making the rounds. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but the clips that Chris Carter chose during that scene were chilling.

That was where this episode almost lost me. I love the idea of a conspiracy that goes All. The. Way. To. The. Top! but I'm not sure how I feel about taking everything, ever, and mushing it into an alien thingamabob. Especially when the results boil down to "Alien tech, hidden by the government, so the government can be power-hungry..." Aren't governments like that even without an alien element?

Having said that, it was sort of a delight to see Joel McHale playing it straight as the wackier version of Glenn Beck. And, of course, I delighted in seeing Scully and Mulder (working) together, in one fashion or another, again.

Sue Doran said...

I'm so glad this popped up on my blogger reading list. I genuinely didn't know anything about the new series. As I'm in the UK without any extra channels except Freeview, I shall have to buy the episodes on Amazon but whoo hoo, this is quite exciting! I can't thank you enough.

Heather said...

I need to rewatch this one a few more times before I can comment more robustly but I love what you said here and I want to add that I am impressed at your fortitude for holding it together because I am having a hard time processing this revival, if I'm honest.

Mallena said...

I was a shipper from the first airing. I started a thread on the boards back in the nineties, titled..."Kissing Mulder' s Forehead". Since we all know Scully fits right under Mulder' s chin, how could she even do that?? Don't say Apple box or 5 inches heels. I wanted realism. Also, more lip action. That illustrates my frustration with this reboot. I know that it is unrealistic to expect M & S to still be together, but that's what I wanted. Also, throwing out all of the old mythology might be necessary since it was a convoluted mess, but how can I rewatch the old series without skipping all the mythology episodes which takes away some of the experience?? I am going to watch this series and hope for the best. Didn't like Joel's character even before he touched Scully. Walter Skinner looks good, Mulder needs a shave, and Scully is way too pale. More makeup or redder hair? I'm in my fifties, so it will be interesting how the show handles their more advanced ages. Did you see the skit they filmed on Kimmel?? I laughed so hard. My first computer took so long to load a page, you could take a nap in between pages. Thanks for reviewing this...the Agents of Doux rocks!!

Billie Doux said...

The Agents of Doux rocks!! Mallena, thanks so much, and thank you for all of your thoughtful comments. Mallena rocks, too. :)

Heather said...

Okay, in no particular order:
--Our Lady of Sorrows.
--I got chills the first time I saw Scully.
--Mulder has recreated his office at home.
--"Don't pretend I'm going alone."
--"I'm always happy to find a reason."
--Joel McHale's hair is 100.
--"For better or worse, we've... moved on with our lives."
--"I've never felt so alive." (Love the quotes you pulled, Chris)
--Scully kicking it with Tad is hilariously irrational.
--The pencils are a spot-on monument to the show's feelings about beaurocratic red tape.

Elements that left me confounded or just mad:
--Why is Scully so into this vague, at best, invitation?
--the meeting Mulder had with his new Deep Throat was among the worst written scenes in the history of badly written scenes on this show and it encapsulates everything I loathe about this Chris Carter creation, yet it manages to get worse with...
--the porch scene and...
--the scene in Mulder's house with Tad, Scully and Sveta. I just glazed over because how could I not.
--As an aside, would it have killed them to use ANYTHING from the past mythology including just acknowledging some of it? While I don't understand what they were eventually concluding about the conspiracy (is it that the gov't has orchestrated the lie forever but it was based on the real fact that an alien crashed or was that faked, too? I don't even know but by the way this was the entire plot of S6's opener, 'Redux', ala Agent Kritschgau but it's still new news? Okay, I digress. But why use those strange melon ball markings on Sveta? Why not the well-used 'mosquito bites' from many other previous episodes? Or even her narrative of what happened didn't really gel with other abduction stories exactly. And she knew Scully and Mulder had a baby but not that Scully was ALSO an abductee? And Scully knows there's alien DNA in her, see again Redux and Redux II. Mulder has it too, see The Sixth Extinction!! I mean I guess my point here is that Carter laid down so much track previously that even if he wants to blow it up the whole railroad, some of it still led to cool, clever, engaging and interesting destinations, so why not use _any_ of it?

I want to finish by saying that none of this took away from my love, awe and overall enjoyment. I came to an understanding a long time ago about this show and my relationship with it and Scully really says it best here (as you so aptly quoted in your review, Chris), "Possibly one of the most intense and challenging relationships I may ever have. And, quite honesty, the most impossible.”

So of course I can't wait for more. :)

Billie Doux said...

Terrific review, Chris, and I enjoyed reading all the comments. I enjoyed the episode, too, and am looking forward to the rest.

The reboot of the mythology has to be frustrating for fans, but honestly, I left that behind awhile ago. I just wanted to see Mulder and Scully (and Skinner) together again, and they were. They'd better be back *together* together by the end of the sixth episode.

Their child together -- that's William, right?

I must admit that I also have a folded piece of paper covering the camera on my laptop. :)

ChrisB said...

SPOILER ALERT. Don't read this if you haven't watched the earlier seasons and want to.

Yes. William is the child that Scully gave birth to. There is a question about his parentage because of Scully's history, but most fans (and I) believe that Mulder is his father. Scully, finally, did as well.

Mark Greig said...

I know I'm a little late to the party but the new series only started airing in the UK tonight. 'My Struggle' was everything I feared a X-Files series would be. The scene in the farmhouse where Mulder and Jeff Winger (I couldn't be bothered to remember the character's actual name) started rambling off conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory was one of the worst written scenes I have ever seen, just beating the earlier scene on the porch between Mulder and Scully. That was almost like some bad X-Files parody without the jokes. If this was a new show I would get off right here, but I'm going to soldier on because of my affection for the show and the hope that the other returning writers will do better. It is not like they can do worse.

Billie Doux said...

Hang in, Mark. I'm up to episode three and it was terrific.

Mark Greig said...

I'm hearing that and I'm not at all surprised since Darin Morgan seems incapable of writing a bad X-Files episode.