As someone who watched The X-Files all the way through to the bitter end—including the disastrous final two seasons where the guy from Terminator 2 replaced the guy from Californication—I was pretty excited for the show’s return. Mulder! Scully! Skinner! Aliens! It’s been too long, old friends. I’m glad to see you’re just as dumb as ever.
I don’t know exactly how to describe what we saw last night. It was one-part reintroduction, one-part massive retcon. And, in all honesty, it was two-parts incoherent. We start with a voiceover from Mulder (David Duchovny) explaining what, exactly, the X-Files were: the cases no one else in the FBI would touch because they were tinged with elements of the extra-terrestrial and the paranormal, cases Mulder was drawn to because of the abduction of his sister by aliens (or possibly the government? I can’t remember). Then we jump to Scully (Gillian Anderson), who has gotten out of the crime-solving biz and is helping doctors graft ears onto kids born without them.* She gets word from their former boss, Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi), that an Alex Jones-style crank named Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale) wants to get in touch with the former FBI agent.
So they meet up and—literally within minutes of episode run time—this guy shows Mulder more stuff than he learned during ten years on the show. He sees an alien replica ship powered by a free, unlimited source of energy (electromagnetic waves, man!) that can float and literally disappear in the blink of an eye and realizes that his whole life has been a sham. Everything we’ve seen in the previous episodes has been a lie. Aliens weren’t fighting to take over the Earth, man! They were coming to save us and their technology was stolen by the military-industrial complex so, like, the oil companies wouldn’t lose out on their profits.
I’ll wait while you rip a giant bong hit. Such revelations require a lighter head.
Then, after we see the alien ship, the military shows up to blow it up, an alien abductee Mulder and O’Malley had been talking to gets killed by a different alien ship, O’Malley’s show goes off the air, and we find out that maybe Scully has alien DNA in her from that time she was abducted?
It’s hard to explain how truly silly the episode is, but thinking about one little snippet might help: About three-quarters of the way through the episode, Mulder provides the voice over for a montage of familiar images explaining how all the dots connect and in this footage we see George W. Bush appear several times—”mission accomplished” and all that—while being told that we’ve been put in a state of constant warfare and fattened up by the corporations to keep from rebelling against the militarized police in our streets.
That’s right! Seven years into the Obama administration, and a supposedly libertarian media agitator has enlisted Mulder to expose the fact that the biggest threat the world faces is … Dubya!
It’s after this montage that we finally understand series creator Chris Carter’s reason for returning to this well: he has the longest-running case of Bush Derangement Syndrome on record. Fox Mulder isn’t a FBI agent or an ET-hunter at this point in his life. He’s a Daily Kos commenter. He’s a Reddit thread made flesh. He’s one of those guys on Twitter that adds every politician he can find to a Twitter canoe and demands they “tell teh truth! abt govt LIES and COROPORATE GRD.”
Now, The X-Files has never really been known for little things like “narrative consistency” or “coherence,” so who knows where they’re taking this. And, in truth, I was immensely entertained last night: we live in an age of conspiratorial thinking, so the only thing Carter and company could do was double down and come up with something even stupider than the craziest redditor’s wildest fantasy.
But it is kind of amazing how large our greatest living president (and noted painter) still looms over the left’s attempts to mentally process what’s wrong with the world.
*As an aside, we learn that the deformity is the result of a genetic abnormality that is especially pronounced in Navajo tribes. I seem to remember something about the Najavo and aliens coming into play at the end of the series’ first run; one dollar gets you five that we find out kids with this defect have alien DNA or some such.