Francis Bacon wrote, “Hope is a good breakfast but a bad supper.” The same could be said for nostalgia. Film and television continually work at resurrecting the treasured memories of science fiction shows and movies that form the foundation of many of our youths.
The X-Files is the latest example. (No Spoilers) With Bacon’s aphorism in mind I’ve kept up with the new episodes and have found them so far delivering more than just the bare essence of what the show produced in its prior nine seasons and two feature films. This is a pleasant realization, as I was ready to drop off when at any point I detected a lazy Frankenshow monster with the necessary parts stitched from the series without any of the spark. There’s too many other programs to watch to put up with that.
Nostalgia got me in, but the initial episode’s story made me care about what was possibly going to be revealed next. Some mysteries from Mulder and Scully’s past might have an entire new layer of the conspiracy onion wrapped around them. Other plot elements are left in the past, which works well as by the ninth season some of the plotlines had become burdensome. Both of the mains have a new world weariness that speaks to them having been forced to figure out how to digest their mostly-failed crusade against the forces of evil. They come out of their respective holding patterns and get back to work with a refined perspective of how to go forward, tackling their latest challenge while still dealing with much of the same obtuse bureaucracy that plagued them before.
Too, the show’s first monster of the week episode jumps right in with the two agents working to solve a gruesome suicide where, as usual, all is not as it seems.
And then we get to the third episode. Darin Morgan writes and directs a dark humor story that’s on par with his work on series episode favorites Humbug, Jose Chung’s From Outer Space, Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose, and War of the Coprophages. He also wrote a pair of episodes of Millenium, both excellent, one titled Jose Chung’s Doomsday Defense which uses the same character and actor from the X-files episode with the similar name. As with the prior similar episodes, there’s some deconstruction here and plenty of black humor in the face of some brutal killings, but this is the X-files hitting on all cylinders. It works.
There’s plenty more here to be happy about. Mitch Pileggi is back and in top form. I hope the writers give him more to do. The music is on point. The show is shot well. But ultimately it’s the writing that will make the subsequent episodes work.
Jeanne Moreau wrote that “Nostalgia is when you want things to stay the same.” I don’t mind a dose of it to put something watchable on my agenda. I do still hope that the same effort applied to Season 10 of the X-Files can also be put towards a new intellectual property that will explore similar themes.
Have you enjoyed the show so far? Any reaction or strong feelings?