The X-Files is back. Mulder and Scully are back. If you’re anything like me, you didn’t quite expect to ever say those words again. (And you may also be trying to forget about that second movie’s existence.) But the series is back, as are David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson (and Mitch Pileggi and William B. Davis), that same theme and the old opening credits. “The Truth is Out There,” so get ready for a bumpy ride.
And it is a bumpy ride, as the season 10 premiere, “My Struggle,” is unfortunately not the best and not entirely what I had hoped it would be. Listen, it’s been years since The X-Files has been on our television screens and, yes, that shows. But when it comes down to it, it seems worth sticking around for the six-episode revival (especially since it does get better, I promise). Some things are the same (the pencils in the ceiling in the office); some things aren’t (Mulder and Scully have broken up, meaning a return of sorts to the relationship we saw between them for the majority of the series). But as the message left for Scully says, “Don’t give up.”
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Welcome (Back) to The X-Files
For those who may not have watched the first nine seasons (and two movies), the introduction offers a rundown of what you may have missed with Mulder’s voiceover of his history, The X-Files and Scully’s involvement. It’s great for those who are tuning in for the first time and quick enough that longtime fans can’t be annoyed that it’s taking up precious time from the rest of the episode and can instead enjoy it for what it is with the photos of Mulder (and his sister), Scully and some of their cases.
Back in 1947…
As mentioned in a quick history of UFO sightings, there have been 10,000 sightings in North American alone, secret studies on extraterrestrial materials and bodies, and all that jazz, but now people only laugh and remember Roswell. “But we must ask ourselves, are they really a hoax? Are we truly alone? Or are we being lied to?”
High Desert, Northwestern New Mexico, 1947. A doctor is escorted to the site of a UFO crash and witnesses the execution of an extraterrestrial being (in spite of his protests as he watches it crawling away). Still, he covers the body, picks it up and carries it away because, as he puts it, why else bring him out there?
Meet Tad O’Malley
“My life’s become a punchline,” Mulder laments to Scully when she calls him because she’s pretty much the only one who can. Skinner called her because Tad O’Malley has reached out to them through the FBI. Tad believes that 9/11 was a warm-up to World War III, and it is all part of a conspiracy dating back to the Roswell crash.
Mulder and Scully reunite in downtown DC as they await Tad’s arrival, allowing for a few moments of small talk. It’s good for him to get out of that house every once in a while, she comments, and he notes that it was good for her.
Because he believes in things like low-flying aircrafts capable of listening in on their conversations, Tad insists that they talk in his limousine (with champagne, if they’d like; they don’t).
He’s a true believer, he insists, like Mulder. However, Spooky corrects him: “No, I only want to believe. Actual proof has been strangely hard to come by.” “You ran The X-Files. You were The X-Files,” Tad argues. “You all but wrote the book.” That doesn’t really matter considering The X-Files is the past, and Mulder and Scully have moved on with their lives, “for better or worse.” Still, Tad is ready to blow open the most evil conspiracy the world has ever known, and he has something — and someone — to show them.
Tad takes them to Low Moor, Virginia, to meet Sveta, who tells Mulder that he interviewed her and her family when she was a little girl, after her first abduction. She’s lost count of the number of times she was taken and harvested, especially with the screen memories. (When Tad defines “screen memories” for them, I have to wonder if he’s forgotten who he’s talking to. “I’m familiar with the syndrome,” Scully tells him.) Aliens impregnated her, Sveta confirms, after looking over at Tad, which Mulder doesn’t miss. Oh, and she has alien DNA. Well, that should be easy to confirm, right?
Enter Dr. Scully running a few tests on Sveta, who chooses then to tell her she can also read minds (and occasionally move things with her mind). So where’s the proof? Well, she knows about Mulder and Scully’s relationship, that it’s over and that they have a child together. However, when Sveta says she doesn’t know what it’s like to be abducted, she doesn’t need to be a mind reader to figure out what Scully’s look means.
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Looking for the Truth
Meanwhile, Tad picks Mulder up in a helicopter simply because he can and takes him to a warehouse. Inside is a Faraday cage holding an ARV (alien replica vehicle). Other labs have been burned to the ground and work destroyed by their own government, the scientist, Garner, explains, so showing him is a big risk.
It runs on zero point energy (free energy, basically), technology kept secret for 70 years, and the most unbelievable part is it disappears. How? Element 150, unpentnilium.
Tad then goes to see Scully at work, catching her as she’s drawing her own blood. (Testing for high cholesterol, she tells him.) The fact that her patient’s deformity looks alien is a random coincidence, she says when he notices, which opens up the discussion for how she feels about her previous work. Working on The X-Files was the most intense and challenging work she’s ever done but admits that she also never felt more alive. And those words (“most intense and challenging”) are also the ones she uses to describe her relationship with Mulder. (Also, step back with your champagne, Tad. You’re being a bit too obvious with how you feel about Scully.)
Mulder asks Sveta about what he noticed earlier, her looking to Tad, and she admits that she doesn’t believe aliens are responsible for what happened to her. Men took her, and she was afraid they’d kill her if she told anyone the truth. Mulder then calls Scully to tell her they’ve been misled, that Sveta is the key to everything and … that’s all he’ll say over the phone, so he just hangs up. (And considering how he sounds on this call, he wonders why Scully tracks him down to see what’s going on.)
Skinner lets Mulder into his old office, with the pencils hanging from the ceiling and the “I Want to Believe” poster discarded on the floor. (It hurts to see it there, but not as much as it hurts when Mulder kicks it, ripping it in half.) Mulder wants to see his old files, but they’re MIA.
“It’s about controlling the past to control the future. It’s about fiction masquerading as fact,” Mulder insists, getting in Skinner’s face, demanding answers. Since Skinner knows Mulder, he’s not at all fazed. He called him because he was looking out for him, like he always has. Mulder knows they lied to him too, and for now, his first step in doing something is to leave Skinner with his number. (And, hey, now Scully doesn’t have to play messenger.)
So, Here’s the Truth…?
Scully’s more concerned with what this is doing to Mulder than what he has to say. It will be his undoing, she says. But Tad is right, he insists, and they’re looking at a conspiracy of men. To Scully, Tad is just a charming man full of charming BS, someone who could just be playing Mulder. No, he’s going to broadcast the truth, Mulder insists, and again calls Sveta the key.
Here’s where Mulder and Tad tell Scully their “so bogus and dangerous and stupid it borders on treason” theory, as she puts it. Basically, the government is hoarding alien tech, and a well-oiled group of elites is going to take over America. It will start on a Friday, with the bank announcing a security action necessitating computers to go offline all weekend. Digital money will disappear. Then there will be a detonation of strategic electromagnetic pulse bombs to knock out major grids, which will seem like a terrorist attack or a simulated alien invasion using ARVs. (Russians tried it in ’47.) Tad’s even planning to say these things on his show tomorrow. But wait — Sveta’s tests came back negative, Scully tells them. There’s no evidence of alien DNA.
The next day, however, Sveta tells the media that Tad tried to put words in her mouth and paid her to tell lies about alien abductions so people would watch his show. Tad’s website becomes “temporarily unavailable.” The site of the ARV is blown up (as are those who were working inside the warehouse). Sveta is gone when Mulder goes to see her — and later, as she’s driving, her car stalls, a ship appears over her and, just as she opens the door, her car is blown up.
“Don’t give up,” a message on Scully’s car advises her. They have to find Sveta, she tells Mulder. She ran the tests again and sequenced her entire genome because she didn’t trust the initial results. So she has alien DNA? Scully also sequences her own genome because of her history and their child together, she reveals. She’s not the only one. Someone has to stop this. And with perfect timing, Skinner texts them that he needs to see them both ASAP.
And so the Cigarette Smoking Man gets a call that alerts him to a “small problem”: “They’ve reopened The X-Files.”
The X-Files airs Mondays at 8pm on FOX.
(Image courtesy of FOX)