‘The X-Files’ Season 10 Review: Where Do We Go From Here?
Here's an episode-by-episode breakdown of everything you missed.
This is a spoiler-filled review of the latest season of The X-Files.
The X-Files is back! And gone again. Sort of. A few weeks back The X-Files returned in what was marketed as “a six-part event”. Some called it a miniseries, but for fans, it was officially dubbed Season 10. Mulder and Scully were with us again, and hot damn, it was good to see them back in action.
Now, straight after the season finale, the show’s creator Chris Carter has confirmed there are already early talks for a new season in the works. “[Fox are] going to ask for more,” he said. “The ratings were very good. They were happy with the show … [although] nothing’s being negotiated yet.”
But let’s first figure out if Season 10 was actually a success. Probing the season’s overall strengths and weaknesses, here’s a full breakdown of the new episodes; one that hopefully figures out the overall potential for a Season 11.
Episode One: ‘My Struggle’
This was a welcome return for the series with some definite high points, and a promising new myth arc. We learned that aliens came to help us in the ‘50s, warned us about the looming extinction of man, and instead of thanking them we turned, cutting them down and cannibalising their technology to set into motion a new coming of privileged assholes. The episode was marred mainly by Joel McHale’s Glenn Beck-wannabe character Tad O’Malley, who hogged an inordinate amount of screentime while Mitch Pileggi (Skinner) was criminally underused. There were lots of holes, yes, but it was a warm, earnest re-entry to the series. Also, it gets bonus points for covering a lot of ground from a standing start.
Episode Two: ‘Founder’s Mutation’
This episode was an almost complete return to form for the show. Lingering questions left over from the initial nine seasons were addressed (namely, the fate of Mulder and Scully’s son, William), the pair worked together the entire time just like in the old days, the episode housed some properly creepy shit (the girl in the pool sequence was thrillingly unnerving) and the insights into what Mulder and Scully had been through psychologically while apart from each other were touching as hell.
Episode Three: ‘Mulder And Scully Meet The Were-Monster’
Holy crap. One of the best monster-of-the-week episodes of all time. Not just because it was, in many ways, about the nature of monster-of-the-week episodes, but because it was funny, charming, touching, enormously goofy and completely earnest. Mulder and Scully, free of the grimness clinging to Chris Carter’s new overarching plot, pinged around like overexcited kids. Rhys Darby (Flight of the Conchords) did sterling work — and sort of stole the show — as the eponymous monster. The episode was riddled with X-Files easter eggs (including references to Queequeg and a tribute to the show’s late producer Kim Manners), and it had perhaps the most uplifting, tonally perfect final shots from any of the more light-hearted entries into X-Files canon.
Episode Four: ‘Home Again’
A terrific monster, a genuinely terrifying conceit, and more traces of the ongoing woes regarding William, ‘Home Again’ worked pretty damn well. Again, we were treated to Mulder and Scully properly back in the swing of things, investigating a particularly gruesome crime together and quipping about how much fun it is to be back in the game. The episode also waded back into some truly dark areas for Scully, who received a call telling her that her mother was in a bad way. The back end of ‘Home Again’ served to further draw Mulder and Scully back together. It also made me bawl my goddamned eyes out.
Side note: this episode might be the best of this season in terms of cinematography. Just top notch stuff, especially the final shot on the beach.
Episode Five: ‘Babylon’
There were a few episodes back in the original series where Chris Carter completely lost it (I’m thinking specifically of ‘The Post-Modern Prometheus’), but ‘Babylon’ contained within it all the best and worst qualities of The X-Files. Utterly surreal comedy? Check. A clumsy but earnest attempt to grapple with what motivates radicalised youths? Check. Lauren Ambrose and Robbie Amell as two of the most bafflingly shrill and pointless characters ever to grace the show? Check. A balls-to-the-wall hallucination sequence which starts with Mulder line-dancing to ‘Achy-Breaky Heart’ and ends with him shirtless on a ship of the dead, speaking to a disfigured boy while the Smoking Man whips the rowers and Tom Wait’s ‘Misery Is The River Of The World’ plays? Check check check.
But inconsistencies and batshit insanity aside, the overall message here — that Mulder is grappling with all the hate of the world and finding solace in a mother’s love is perhaps the answer to fixing things — combined with the creepy ending, and Mulder and Scully’s reunion intensifying at least made it an experience.
Episode Six: ‘My Struggle II’
The first ‘My Struggle’ was full of stuff; too full of stuff really. But where the first instalment started with a lengthy ode from Mulder, Part II focuses squarely on Scully. Not coincidentally, it’s the better episode, but it also suffers similar problems to the first: there way way too much O’Malley and a rage-inducing lack of Skinner.
Seriously, O’Malley gets almost constant screentime, and is apparently the only way the world, crumbling under the weight of an impending epidemic, gets their news. Ambrose and Amell are back as Einstein and Miller, and thankfully, they’re tolerable this time around. The highlights for me, however, were the return of Agent Monica Reyes (no Doggett, which pissed me off no end), and Mulder engaging in a frankly Jason Bourne-grade ass-kicking in his house with one of the Smoking Man’s lackeys.
Oh, and Smoking Man takes centre stage up towards the tail end of the episode. The bloating, baffling conspiracy plot spewed out as cliches and platitudes by O’Malley in the first episode are mercifully boiled down to the trademark grumbling monologuing of the original series. This time we find out, from the cancer-riddled nemesis, that aliens arrived back in the ‘50s, warned us what would happen to humanity down the line, offered help, so we killed them, took their tech and began a global conspiracy ensuring the survival of those we deemed fit. Mulder refuses his help, and just as Scully synthesises a cure from her alien DNA, she, Mulder and Miller meet on a bridge packed with people fleeing the city. As she states the only thing that could save Mulder now would be stem cells from William, a UFO appears overhead. A beam of light hits their car, Scully stares upwards, and…
Wait, that’s it? That’s the end?
Of course it isn’t. Chris Carter’s statements suggest we’ll definitely get more. But my advice to him would be this: share the load and don’t rush it. Episodes where Carter had complete creative control seem to wander wildly between great and awful, and the core cast — I’m talking Skinner, Doggett, Reyes and co. — needed to be back in more active roles. Also, trying to cram a new big bad conspiracy and tie-up old baggage meant there was often a weird, disorienting pacing in this season.
So should you watch/re-watch it? Hell yes — provided you can turn off your laserbeam critical faculties and enjoy the show for what it is. It’s The X-Files you always knew; the thrilling, endearing, often frustrating but ultimately wonderful X-Files.
Watch the series on TenPlay now.
Paul Verhoeven is a Jim Henson’s Creature Workshop creation. He hosts Save Point, writes for TheVine, and is a presenter on Triple J, and tweets from @PaulVerhoeven.