The X-Files ran on FOX from 1993 to 2002. It was a popular and even seminal, science-fiction series, which even produced two feature films. It was about a pair of FBI agents who investigate paranormal cases. It was fueled by an alien mythology that purported UFO sightings and alleged abductions were either real or were all part of a vast, secret, government conspiracy.
David Duchovny stars as Fox Mulder, an expert, criminal profiler whose sister went missing when he was a teenager. He believed his sister was abducted by aliens from outer space. This has motivated him to pursue cases that involve paranormal elements or cases linked to UFO sightings and abductions. The X-Files are what the FBI terms such strange cases.
Gillian Anderson co-stars as Dana Scully, a medical doctor who is an avid scientist assigned to be Mulder’s partner and debunk his work. Whereas Mulder believes in UFO’s and all these paranormal things, Scully is a doubter or non-believer. Anytime Mulder gets a tiny hint that something supernatural is happening, he immediately goes to the extreme explanation, but Scully wants scientific proof for a more, down-to-earth explanation.
After working together for nearly a decade, both have gone back-and-forth on their stances. As this tenth season begins, the story picks up seven years after the 2nd film in 2008. Mulder and Scully have left the FBI. Mulder has become a recluse, living in a rural house and Scully works at Our Lady of Sorrows Hospital in Washington, DC, and both have reverted to their initial stances.
Written and directed by Chris Carter, what we learn in the opening is that in 1947, an alien ship crashed near Roswell, New Mexico. The ship and the alien pilot were captured, and both have been the subjects of experimentation for over 50 years.
One of those experiments, thanks now to DNA and in-vitro technology, is taking alien DNA and implanting it in women in order to create babies that are part alien to see what could be discovered or mined. In the previous two seasons of this show, the 8th and 9th seasons, it’s revealed that Scully was one of those women who were implanted with a baby having alien DNA. Mulder and Scully eventually gave that baby named William up for adoption.
Carter’s 10th season, which is only going to be six-episodes total, wants to revisit all that. The insidiousness of how the baby came to be and the guilt and love that both Mulder and Scully feel for the baby are all stirred up. It’s an obvious route for Carter to go. Some complaints though are that with only six episodes, Carter doesn’t have enough time to fully explore that insidiousness or guilt and love. His attempts to do so, basically by cramming it all into two episodes, are clunky and a bit awkward.
The first two episodes entitled “My Struggle” and “Founder’s Mutation” in fact waste too much time on tangential machinations that parallel what Mulder and Scully are supposed to be experiencing, but putting the experience in surrogates. For example, “Founder’s Mutation” has a character named Jackie Goldman who, like Scully, lost her baby and another character named Kyle who, like Mulder, is looking for his sister. If Carter had more time, this would be a good episode to expand things, but instead of paralleling Mulder and Scully’s path, he should have just steered back to them. Have Scully focusing on her baby not Jackie. Have Mulder focusing on his sister not Kyle.
Aside from doing episodes dealing with the complicated and convoluted mythology, the show was famous for doing standalone adventures that were dubbed “monster-of-the-week” episodes. Where Carter and his team of writers and directors excelled was in these monsters of the week. In addition to being great sci-fi, the show also was a stunningly dark and often very scary, horror series.
Yet, the show wasn’t depressing. It was exciting and had such a great sense of humor, sometimes satirical or often ironic or meta. As a result, the show became a master of horror-comedy, drifting occasionally into the ridiculous, but it kept the show entertaining. The third episode of Season 10, entitled “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster” is a perfect example of that. Penned by Darin Morgan, the writer of The X-Files who excelled in horror-comedy by embracing the absurdities of the show and quite frankly mocking them, the third episode of Season 10 puts on display all of his best tendencies.
If one remembers “Humbug” from Season 2, “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” from Season 3 and “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space'” also from Season 3, then this third episode from Season 10 will seem like a series of callbacks to all these three episodes from the mid-90’s. Yet, it’s as if Morgan learned all the lessons of why those episodes were so extremely good and used it to craft this new one, cutting away any fat and hitting every beat perfectly. I didn’t think it was possible for Morgan to top Peter Boyle who played Clyde Bruckman or Charles Nelson Reilly who played Jose Chung, but he has in kiwi actor Rhys Darby whose character of Guy Mann instantly goes down in The X-Files history book as one of the best, if not one of the funniest.
Three Stars out of Five.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Mondays at 8PM on FOX.