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Making Sense of ‘The X-Files’ Revival

Jessica Morris ‘19/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in the X-Files episode "Babylon." Photo Credit: Fox
David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in the The X-Files episode “Babylon.” Photo Credit: Fox

After six episodes, The X-Files revival—also referred to as Season 10 of the series—has come to a close. Overall, hype for the revival was high, with the ratings to prove it. Still, it is not certain that the miniseries was a success. Many of the audience’s questions and fans’ desires were left unresolved and unquenched. And some reviewers have been scathing with their remarks about the revival, but more specifically, in regards to Chris Carter’s involvement in the series. So, what went wrong?

By the time the revival was announced in March 2015, The X-Files had been off the air since 2002.  Fans hadn’t seen Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) back in action since the I Want To Believe feature film in 2008, which wasn’t exactly an Oscar-quality picture and received negative feedback to prove it. With the promise of a revival series, fans old and young alike were overcome with excitement. Finally, their beloved agents’ stories could be continued, and eventually, neatly resolved. Unfortunately, that initial excitement culminated in disappointment with the finale of the season, “My Struggle II”.

Lauren Ambrose and Gillian Anderson in The X-Files episode "My Struggle II." Photo Credit: Fox
Lauren Ambrose and Gillian Anderson in The X-Files episode “My Struggle II.” Photo Credit: Fox

“My Struggle II” was an exciting episode, but also a very confusing one. It lacked the clean logic and storytelling that marked some previous myth-arc episodes in the series. A humanity-destroying virus is discovered and the world faces a possible apocalypse. It is soon revealed that this is a man-made disease, and while a few elites have been selected to be spared—Scully included—the rest of the world is set to die. Scully attempts to find a cure and finds that she is actually the cure. But Mulder is already sick, and his time is running out. The episode concludes with both Scully and Mulder’s fates left unanswered.

A convoluted storyline such as this should have ideally been covered in multiple episodes, rather than just one. The plot was far too big to fit within one episode, especially the season’s finale. The result was an episode that felt incomplete, and a lackluster possible ending to the series. “My Struggle II” could have been the episode to redeem the revival. Instead, it may have been the episode that put the nail in the coffin and upset fans the most.

Was the revival series as a whole absolutely terrible? No. Was it disappointing? For many fans, the answer to that question is a solid yes. Of the six-episode miniseries, half of those episodes were good. “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” was an instant classic, funny and reminiscent of older fan-favorites like the Season 5 episode “Bad Blood.” “Founder’s Mutation” and “Home Again” were enjoyable, although not great, and easily fit in with the rest of the series. However, the remaining three episodes left much to be desired. “My Struggle,” “Babylon,” and of course, “My Struggle II” were all met with criticism.

Robbie Amell, Lauren Ambrose and Gillian Anderson in The X-Files episode "My Struggle II." Photo Credit: Fox
Robbie Amell, Lauren Ambrose and Gillian Anderson in The X-Files episode “My Struggle II.” Photo Credit: Fox

Those three episodes that were not well-received were all written by the same person: Chris Carter. Though he is the creator of The X-Files, some believe it is high time Carter passes the baton to new screenwriters so that the series may continue down a better path.

The issue with the revival seemed to be a combination of a few things. First, the season was unable to find its focus. Not every episode needed to be dedicated to the same storyline, but at least two or three should have been to prevent a rushed finale. Those responsible also seem to have forgotten what made The X-Files so successful in the first place. The chemistry between Mulder and Scully has always been the heart of the show, not the cases. Yet this season introduced us to them as an estranged couple and did not provide viewers an answer to the duo’s fate by the end of it. Time was also wasted in the revival series by introducing two new characters, Agent Miller (Robbie Amell) and Agent Einstein (Lauren Ambrose), who offer nothing to the audience, besides potentially being future substitutes for Mulder and Scully.

There is no definitive answer currently to whether or not The X-Files will return. Both Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny have careers outside the show, as well as families. Continuing with the show will be difficult, and another miniseries will probably be in-store rather than the show’s twenty-plus episode seasons of old. However, it is clear that everyone involved, including Fox, is willing to continue the series. It’s simply a matter of when and how.

After watching the revival’s finale, one thing is for certain: Mulder and Scully’s story is far from over. Here is to hoping that story gets finished. The truth, of course, is still out there.

Episode Grades:

“My Struggle II”: C+

Revival as a whole: B-

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2 Comments

  1. I strongly disagree with the comment about Mulder and Scully’s chemistry; that aspect was boring and unnecessary and was not part of the show for a long time. Their relationship was more interesting as friends and colleagues.

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