Category Archives: The X-files

The M0vie Blog’s Review of “The X-Files: I Want to Believe”

The M0vie Blog has probably a lot on their plate and just like other bloggers **coughsmecoughs*, hasn’t yet had the time to review the new season of The X-Files.  But thankfully there is still a review for, oh, every single other episode of the show AND both movies, so I think I’ll be OK for some time yet.

You see the thing is that the reviews featured on this site are so extensive and thorough that I would 1) much rather wait for a great six reviews of the new episodes, and 2) be more than happy to delve back into the other reviews.  And realising that may of the feelings, emotions, and reactions to Season 10 paralleled those inspired by the second feature film based on the show, it made sense to feature the following review today.

The M0vie Blog’s Review of The X-Files: I Want to Believe

The plan was always to transition The X-Files from television to film, but fans change.

Following the success of The X-Files: Fight the Future, there had been some mumblings about the possibility of releasing a film in the summer of 2000. Given that The X-Files was a cultural property rooted in the nineties, it seemed like a big screen adventure would have been the perfect way to bring Mulder and Scully into the twenty-first century. After all, the original plan was that the show would retire in its seventh season. (The network even had a bespoke successor selected in Chris Carter’s Harsh Realm.)

Gotta have faith...

Gotta have faith…

However, this was not to be. It turned out that Fight the Future represented the cultural peak of The X-Files, the moment of maximum pop culture saturation. Almost immediately upon the production team’s move to California at the start of the sixth season, the show’s rating began their slow (and then not so slow) decline. The seventh season was itself hampered by behind-the-scenes drama, with David Duchovny suing Chris Carter and Fox over syndication. At the same time, Fox’s “worst season ever” meant that the broadcast could not afford to cancel The X-Files.

So, understandably, the sequel to Fight the Future was postponed and put on the long-finger. As the show came to an end in its ninth season, the subject of a second X-Files feature film arose again. Still, there was a debate to be had about whether the world really wanted a second X-Files film. While the sixth and seventh seasons had slowly eroded the show’s popularity and appeal, the ninth completely collapsed it; through the combination of bad storytelling decisions and the broader shift in the political mood, The X-Files felt like a spent cultural force.

"Platonic", eh?

“Platonic”, eh?

Ultimately, that was not to be either. The production history of The X-Files: I Want to Believe often recalls the mythology at the heart of The X-Files, with the project constantly shifting and changing as outside forces intervene. I Want to Believe arrived in cinemas in July 2008, a full decade after Fight the Future and more than six years after the broadcast of The Truth. The finished product is radically different from what anybody might have imagined in the immediate aftermath of Fight the Future, its design often surreal and awkward.

If I Want to Believe would have been a strange choice for an X-Files film release in July 2000, it seemed downright perverse in July 2008.

The truth is out there. Way out there.

The truth is out there. Way out there.

There are a lot of reasons why I Want to Believe arrived so late. Initially, Carter was simply enjoying a break. Factoring in the development of The X-Files before the first season was even broadcast, Carter had devoted a year of his his life to the project. As such, the cancellation represented a certain amount of freedom for the writer. Asked about the possible development of a second X-Files film in 2004, actor Dean Haglund remarked that Carter was “off surfing and climbing the mountains of the world.”

In fact, Carter openly acknowledges that he greatly enjoyed the free time afforded by the end of a hit network television series. Explaining what he did with all of that time off, Carter confessed, “I took three years of drum lessons.  I have a kit set up right now. I love jazz and funk, because it’s hard. If it’s not hard, it’s not worth doing.” Carter had certainly earned some time off; overseeing more than two hundred episodes of a weekly television series is exhausting. (And this discounts the work Carter did on other projects overlapping.)

A close shave...

A close shave…

At the same time, the show’s creative team had split up to work on a variety of different projects. The influence of The X-Files would be keenly felt on an entire generation of television, as the landscape was shaped and moulded by writers and directors who had honed their skill on the popular nineties supernatural drama. In particular, Carter’s regular mythology collaborator Frank Spotnitz had moved to work on shows like Robbery Homicide Division and Night Stalker.

As a result, it took a little time to get all the pieces moving. It was late 2004 before the plans were made public, with Fox acknowledging their interest in taking Mulder and Scully to the big screen again. Already, it appeared to be something of a logistical nightmare. “So now it’s just a matter of making sure everybody can get together at the same time and do it,” reflected David Duchovny of the planned sequel in 2004. However, other obstacles to the movie’s development would soon emerge.

Snow escape...

Snow escape…

Shortly after committing to the sequel, Carter became embroiled in a legal battle with Fox concerning the financial management of The X-Files. Ever diplomatic, Carter was keen to stress that the engagement was never hostile on either side, although it did affect the scheduling of the film:

Fox approached us in 2003 and said, ‘Let’s go.’ We were ready to go, but then there followed what I would call a contractual thing over the series’ profit, and what started out as a negotiation had to turn into a lawsuit – it’s complicated – in order for me to protect my right to negotiate. It took years to settle, and at that point I didn’t think there could ever be a second movie. Then, after everything was resolved, Fox called and said, ‘Remember that movie you had in mind? You’d better get ready to do it now or never, because there’s a Writers Guild strike looming.’ So it was years of stasis, and then a mad rush.

Somewhat ironically, Carter would be represented in this legal matter by Stanton L. Stein, who had represented Duchovny during his seventh season lawsuit against Carter. I Want to Believe already had a storied history before it even entered production.

Joe knows...

Joe knows…

The production of I Want to Believe was not entirely smooth. Although it seemed like the film had slowly lurched into production, the movie suddenly found itself in a mad dash towards the finish line. Although Carter and Spotnitz were allowed to develop the film, Fox imposed a number of serious constraints upon the team:

Five years out of sight is a long time even for a popular franchise, and when Fox gave the go-ahead to Mr. Carter and his co-writer and co-producer, Frank Spotnitz, the green light came with a low budget of $30 million, a strong expression of preference for a user-friendly PG-13 rating and a now-or-never timetable predicated on finishing the script before the writers’ strike last winter.

In many ways, I Want to Believe was fighting an up-hill battle even before those constraints were imposed upon it: a minuscule budget smaller than that of Fight the Future; a tight deadline on scripting, with no capacity for rewriting or reworking when that deadline elapsed; a preference for a rating that would undercut the movie’s ability to do horror.

For Peet's sake...

For Peet’s sake…

Carter has acknowledged these factors as limitations upon the finished product. In many respects, I Want to Believe was tailored to the restrictions imposed upon the production team:

It’s funny, but on the series, we prided ourselves each week with making a little movie. Then, when it came time to do the second X-Files movie, we were given the money and the opportunity to make, literally, a little movie. That’s what we did. We realized we had no money for big special effects. We had to come up with a story that didn’t rely on those special effects, and hence wasn’t a summer blockbuster kind of movie.

There are certainly some respects in which these restrictions are obvious. Fight the Future opened with the demolition of a government building and built to a massive alien ship buried in the Arctic. The biggest set piece in I Want to Believe is a footchase through Vancouver.

Growing the beard...

Growing the beard…

At the same time, even allowing for the limitations imposed upon the film, some of the choices made by the production team were curious. The most obvious of these decisions was to structure I Want to Believe as a “monster of the week” story rather than a mythology adventure. Whereas Fight the Future was tied into the show’s tangled web of government conspiracies and alien visitation, I Want to Believe is a smaller story about psychic visions and body-swapping experiments.

To be fair, it had always been the plan for the second X-Files film to stand on its own. Chris Carter explained, “When we finished the first movie, we said the next movie we do will be a story that stands alone, what some people call a ‘monster of the week’ story. We wanted to do a story that didn’t require you to have any knowledge of that ongoing story arc.” It makes a certain amount of sense, particularly in the context of the show’s final years.It was easy to understand why Carter and Spotnitz thought that fans might want a “monster of the week.”

Surgical precision...

Surgical precision…

The mythology had been a huge draw in the show’s early years. Episodes like Colony and End Game had seen the show push the limits of what was possible on television, while the twist and turns kept audiences hooked as Mulder and Scully gradually unearthed a massive conspiracy against the American people. However, time took a lot of the luster off the mythology, as it became increasingly clear that the mythology was not going to offer viewers the answers that they wanted in the way that they wanted.

The final season had seen the mythology become an albatross around the show’s neck as it became bogged down in prophecy and “super soldiers.” Indeed, the show’s fixation upon its own mythology – and the desperate need to prove that the mythology all made sense – turning the two-hour season finalé into a slog. The Truth was less of an ending and more of a clip show. In many ways, it felt like the show was making a desperate attempt to salvage its legacy by arguing that the mythology did make sense.

A cold reception...

A cold reception…

(In a way, perhaps, this speaks to the gap between what fandom wanted from the show and what they thought they wanted. By and larger, the mythology of The X-Files does make a certain amount of sense; there are a few loose threads and narrative cul de sacs, but the show explains the “why” and the “how” quite clearly. However, the show’s mythology is not satisfying in any material sense, because none of these resolutions lead to fulfilling resolutions. The problem was never that the mythology didn’t make sense; the problem was it ceased to be told well.)

Read the rest of this review here.

Apt. 42’s Review of The X-Files, Season 10, Episode 6: ‘My Struggle II’

Although at first I was a little put off by the new, Season 10 episodes of The X-Files, I have to admit that I am starting to reconsider my opinion.  I still think the execution was lacking–the first and last episodes of the run were too hurried and not particularly well written, for example, and perhaps some of the MOTW episodes should have been replaced by mythology episodes so that things could have been better explained.

So I thought it à propos to feature Apartment 42 Revisited‘s review of the latest, last episode of The X-Files that we have available to us, the one that ended on such a cliffhanger that one can assume Season 11 will be happening at some point in the future, and that there is no reason to fight it.

Apt. 42’s Review of The X-Files, Season 10, Episode 1: ‘My Struggle II’

Unable to reach Mulder, Scully has to deal with a frightening escalation of medical cases that may be linked to the biological threat of extraterrestrial DNA.

My Struggle II

20th Century Fox

Max: I wonder — if The X-Files revival might not have gone as well as it has ratings-wise — where the hell that would leave us if this episode was the last we’d see of Mulder and Scully for the foreseeable future. Certainly, we as viewers are left with a doozy of a cliffhanger that portends that the race against time might be all for naught. At the very least, “My Struggle II” improves significantly upon the season premiere, but not without scores of unanswered questions and narrative revelations that still do not quite feel in step with the classic conspiracy mode we all know and love.

Scully is approached by both Skinner and Agent Einstein when Mulder seemingly disappears, called to alarm by a new Tad O’Malley report that the alien threat in the form of mass illness and casualties is upon us. In the midst of all of this, droves of afflicted people begin to arrive at Our Lady of Sorrows hospital, leaving Scully and Einstein racing against the clock to locate and isolate alien DNA in Scully, in order to create a vaccine.

But being that this is The X-Files, things aren’t that simple. Monica Reyes reemerges with some startling new information, including what she has been doing for the past decade. Turns out she was called to the bedside of a very badly burned Cigarette Smoking Man, who got her to work for him with promises that she would be saved from a coming biological attack. She reveals that the alien genome is what is needed to save people from certain death and only a select few — like Scully — have it.

My Struggle II

20th Century Fox

An increasingly debilitated Mulder, who tracks down and confronts the CSM, is given the choice to be spared as well but refuses to give his longtime nemesis the satisfaction. Luckily, Scully is able to isolate the necessary genetic material and fabricate a crude vaccine, but Mulder (finally found by Miller) has gotten far too sick for it to work. He could be saved by stem cells from William — but the episode ends with a UFO hovering over the agents on the Potomac River.

My Struggle II

20th Century Fox

This may not be the rally that we were all hoping for after slogging through the unevenness of this season, but it is a start — a step in the right direction — and with Fox likely to order more episodes given the stellar ratings, something I am looking forward to. But this is latter day X-Files, so we have to deal with leaning into the wrong things story-wise. The episode continued the push into the unfounded paranoia surrounding vaccines and chemtrails, for example, which comes off as nearly a ringing endorsement of what people like Alex Jones have been feeding people for years. Also, the pacing and structure of the episode was off, and didn’t get corrected until the final act. It’s also a bit jarring to see the kind of doomsday scenarios of countless Hollywood blockbusters see their way into a show that was more low key and subtle about its threats.

Read the rest of the review here.

TV Review: The X-Files, Season 10, Episode 3: ‘Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster’

The hurried and packed nature of first episode of The X-Files revival left me feeling both incredibly happy and a little harried; the second episode left me happy and intrigued; the third episode left me laughing and elated. A brilliant Darin Morgan script was brought to life through great acting from our usual dynamic duo, Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, and guest star Rhys Darby. It was a relief as well to have a return to tight dialog, the kind where every word counts, something that was lacking in the season opener and which the second episode only partially made up for.

Special Treats for The X-Files Super-Fan

It’s been interesting to read reviews from bloggers who clearly have either never watched the original series, kind of watched it, or watched it only once when it originally aired. This became even more interesting after the airing of this episode, as many of the nods to the show’s original run went over the head of many, many reviewers who label themselves as knowledgeable about the show.

But these nods were really appreciated by fans and underline how much history there is in The X-Files. I have a feeling I didn’t catch all of them in my first two viewings of the episode, and can’t wait to post this review so that I can check in with some of the hard-core fans I’m friends with to see what I missed:

  • The two stoners in the cold open are familiar. I have to admit that I don’t remember from which episode (and I refuse to do research because I want this review to be unbiased) but I know they were in another episode, cast as similar characters.
  • Mulder throwing pencils at the poster is reminiscent to his throwing pencils at the ceiling, pencils that were still there in this season’s opening episode. Perhaps he was told that he is not allowed to so main his new office?
  • Mulder sleeping in red briefs that look a lot like a certain red speedo worn by the agent in Season 2.
  • Mulder’s monologue in Scully’s hotel room covering both sides of a conversation they would have about the case they are working on pretty much sums up the nature of their relationship over the course of the show’s run.
  • The head stone that Mulder “visits” in the graveyard has Kim Manners’ name on it, who directed a large number of episodes in the original run and passed away a few years ago, right around the time the movie The X-Files: I Want to Believe came out.
  • The ringtone that wakes a drunk, passed out Mulder up in the cemetery is the show’s theme.
  • Scully’s quip “I’m immortal” brings to mind a question fans have long had about this very topic, with two episodes fuelling the debate: Season 3’s “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repost” and Season 6’s “Tithonus.”
  • Daggoo is yet another Moby Dick reference made in the show, of which the best known one is Captain Scully calling his daughter Starbuck.
  • And who can forget what poor, adorable Queequeg, and cringe at the thought of the conversation Scully had to have with her mother after his demise?

So… How many have I missed?

The Case

Two concepts were touched upon in the course of this case: those we think are monsters are not often so, and that human nature, as we currently define it, is very dire indeed.

In a typical Morgan twist, it ends up that the Were-Monster, Guy Mann, is not the culprit but the victim; bitten by a human, he has been startled out of his peaceful existence as an insectivore. This puts him in a position to deliver a very interesting and brilliant commentary about human nature about the pointless drive to get things that we might not even understand why we need (like a mortgage), the lies we tell ourselves and others about who we wish to be (Mann’s sexual exploits), and the fact that happiness—which should be, for social creatures like ourselves, something we achieve through our relationships with each other—is more easily achieved by Mann (and man?) by getting a pet (which I also translate into happiness in getting things). Mann’s monologue can be seen as a warning to Mulder not to give in to what the consensus is telling him, i.e. that he should give up on his work on The X-Files, to settle for the much more “normal” work as profiler, which he was so good at and might have allowed him to climb the ladder at the FBI.

Mulder’s Quest: The Jumping Hare

Because ultimately, it feels like this episode is about Mulder yet again having doubts about his path in life, doubts that have plagued him throughout the show’s original run. And just like he always has, the agent tends to jump around a lot in his beliefs, ready to accept at the drop of a hat whatever will prove the existence of the paranormal, or strong emotions—like the disappearance of Scully in Season 2—making him lash out angrily at his beliefs.

At the beginning of this particular episode, we witness many of the cases Mulder investigated basically “debunked” by science, thus making him question the existence of The X-Files. The interesting thing through is that, in my mind at least, having false, so-called paranormal cases debunked will serve Mulder well in narrowing his focus on the remaining, still to-be-explained cases in his files.

Seeing the Were-Monster transform before his eyes helps Mulder rekindle his faith, but hopefully with a strong dose of caution he has been seriously lacking until now.

Scully’s Path: The Careful Tortoise

It’s interesting to see, both in this season and through most of the show’s original run (except at the beginning of Season 8 when she was trying to fill Mulder’s vacant shoes), the contrast between Mulder and Scully, who is very secure in what she believes in. While Scully does change her view of the truth, it happens step by step, slowly, and with a lot of proof. This can potentially make for a very interesting dynamic in the next three episodes (and hopefully in upcoming seasons…) during which I hope the two agents will be able to resolve the dichotomy which I believe has kept them from the truth for so long.

Mulder and Scully’s Relationship

With regards to their working relationship, this episode hints that there is hope that Mulder and Scully are closer than ever to resolving this dichotomy. Mulder seems to have accepted that science can indeed resolve many of the things he looked into, while Scully’s ownership of the “I Want to Believe” poster makes her seem even more open to turn to the paranormal for answers than I expected.

With regards to their romantic relationship, well, I’m a little on the fence here. Scully’s “This is how I like my Mulder” reflects the external force that greatly influenced them coming together in the first place: their work. And it looks like when the work was gone, well, they couldn’t hold it together. Could it be that Mulder did have depression and that became too much for Scully who wanted to step out of the darkness? Could it just be that it was Mulder’s incessant jumping around from theory to theory that clashed too much with Scully’s focus on science? Or could it be that their relationship is, indeed, too imbibed in The X-Files to ever survive without it?

Final Thoughts

This is definitely the best episode of the season yet. Where the first episode was a confusing, information-stuffed welcome back envelop and the second one a solid modernised, Fringe-like episode, this third one is, well, a classic X-Files that helps to gracefully bring the show into 2016.

The X-Files Revival Cheat Sheet Number 6: Why Scully is a Feminist Icon

Amongst others, FBI agent Dana Scully from The X-Files seems to have had quite an effect on how viewers perceive strong women in general. The “Scully Effect” for example is said to have influenced hundreds if not thousands of medical school and law enforcement training applications. The six posts that made if on this, the sixth X-Files related cheat sheet meant to help both newcomers and rustier X-Philes, are meant to help shed light on the influence of the character of Scully on our culture.

8 Ways The X-Files’ Dana Scully Changed the Game

This list is short and sweet but really does a lot in underlining the main reasons why the character of Dana Scully was so inspiring to so many viewers of the show, especially the younger female audience.

How the Strong Female Character was Born: A Study of Dana Scully

This piece helps dig into some of the abovementioned way Scully changed the game. I also feel like Lizzie’s personal experience with the character of Dana Scully is one that will resonate with many a woman who started watching the show at a really young age. To have on screen a woman who, although beautiful, was characterised mostly for her intelligence and her strength was a big shift in the way women were for the most part developed in television at the time. For those of you who love Scully because she is a strong woman, you will resonate with this piece. For those of you who don’t understand why a young woman would find this character so inspiring, this is a piece well worth reading.

Why ‘The X-Files’ Dana Scully Still Stands Out As One Of TV’s Greatest Feminist Role Models

Some might question if Scully, a character created in the early 1990s, still has any relevance today. If you’re one of them—or if, like me, you would like to learn how to express ideas about this topic in an eloquent fashion—this is a piece for you.

Less “Big Bang Theory,” More Dana Scully: What it’s Going to Take to Lead More Girls into Science

If you want to dig even further, these piece really helps shed light on some of the forces currently acting on the media that shapes the characters that grace our television screens. It also digs a little more into the “Scully Effect” for those of you interested in finding out a little more about this phenomenon.

Why Today’s Woman need Dana Scully

While discussion the topic of positive role models in fiction, I often am faced with individuals who are convinced I am making a mountain out of a molehill. This article helps generate some reflection on the actual current state of fictional women in the media and how even today, while there are more women characters portrayed on television and on the big screen, there is still quite a dearth in strong female characters who are not influenced by the negative social forces acting on all of us.

Is Dana Scully the trust star of the X-Files?

And it’s not just theoretical; Sean over at Wristband Bros went a step ahead by looking into Google trends over the last 12 years. I won’t spoil it for you, but you can guess which character between Scully and Mulder trended the most.

TV Review: The X-Files, Season 10, Episode 2: ‘Founder’s Mutation’

It was so nice seeing a new episode of The X-Files with the season opener, “My Struggle”. But while it revived something I had feared long dead (do you know the number of petitions I signed?) it was also an episode so crammed and cramped it left me feeling dissatisfied—kind of like when you overeat something really good.

Thankfully, “Founder’s Mutation” was a return to form, with a good, old-fashioned monster-of-the-week that might or might not have to do with the overarching mythology (think of the second season’s “Fearful Symmetry”). It’s also a great character development episode in the way of so many over the course of the first nine seasons. We get to revisit the William storyline which hopefully is only an introduction to more about the agents’ now fifteen-year-old offspring (hint: check out the trailers.)

Following the very Observer-like government agent in the first episode, “Founder’s Mutation” continues to channel vibes from a show that, well, channeled its vibes during its run. There is just something about the music in this episode; it’s high, almost crisp resolution (probably just a reflection of today’s technology); the conference room scene in the cold start reminiscent of the beginning of “The Dreamscape”; the “special” children being tested on by a genius scientist; the unresolved tension between the two leads; and the way the daydreaming sequences are filmed—albeit these are redder/yellower than the typical blue tinged Fringe dream sequences.

While the creep factor has always been and thankfully remains omnipresent, the gore factor does seem to have increased. This probably has to do with the higher resolution and the set lighting, which brings to the fore a lot of the gore that used to be somewhat veiled. But to me, the creepiest part of the episode is something seemingly innocuous and completely not gory: Molly in the pool, breathing underwater.

The Return of Fox Mulder

One of the trailers included a clip of Mulder dropping to the floor in Sanjay’s apartment with his hands on his ears. I had assumed that whatever was happening had to do with Mulder’s abduction. I don’t know if I was relieved or upset that it isn’t, all the more that we don’t know yet if Goldman did test the children in his ward with alien DNA.

After the hints in “My Struggle” about Mulder’s state of mind, it’s really nice to see Mulder’s humor coming back here and there in this episode, mostly in the form of little quips such as the ones about Edward Snowden and Obamacare. Another fun moment that included Mulder was Mrs. Goldman throwing her apple at what seems to be the ward’s cat to which he deadpanned “You don’t like cats”. A lot happened in those few seconds on both Mulder and Scully’s faces!

It also seems like Mulder really missed his work—he already seems to be very comfortable back in this role, demonstrated by how quickly he got back in the saddle, how fast and clear-sighted he is throughout the investigation, and the smooth way he flicked out and handed over a business card to Agnes.

Mulder and Scully

It was difficult to watch the heartbreak of two parents wondering what life would have been like if things had been different and they had raised their child. It seems repetitive to give praise to David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson’s performances, but in this case, well, props to both of them. I found it particularly interesting to note that, in each agents’ daydream, neither’s includes the other. It was also very interesting to get insight into the fears each one has as it relates to William. Neither came as a surprise, be it her fear that William’s DNA includes some extra-terrestrial fragments and his that William will be taken by aliens like his sister Samantha. Although this fear could in fact be Mulder’s interpretation of reality since in a way aliens did take both Samantha and William away from him. And shippers probably got quite a boost of hope in what can be the biggest proof that Mulder still cares deeply for Scully: he withholds his pain about William to spare her its burden. Hopefully though he will realise (and very soon!) that however good his intentions, keeping such an important part of him from Scully is not compatible with a healthy relationship between the two (and again, the trailers contain a major hint in this regard.)

The Curious Lack of a Desk for Dana Scully

Seriously, guys. You have a brand new office and ordered brand new furniture. No one thought to give Scully her own desk? Or, at the very least, no one thought to give her a desk that wasn’t so tucked away as to be invisible in scenes set in that basement office?

Scully asking Dr. Goldman so directly if the key he is looking for is alien DNA and his response (“I thought you were the rational one”) mark how Scully, while still not ready and willing to jump at any theory like Mulder still seems to be, doesn’t deny the existence of extra-terrestrial life anymore. I’m still hoping that Mulder had undergone a parallel change that will keep him from jumping around from one theory to another despite his behavior in “My Struggle”.

While the mythology can get convoluted, one of the things I feel The X-Files has done really well up to now is consistency in its character development. Scully’s “Sometimes I hate myself that I didn’t have the courage to stand by him” confirms theories as to why and how she seems so broken now. Her life would no doubt have been quite different had she chosen not to give William up for adoption. I don’t know if I am looking too far into this, but that her William-related scenes feature her with straight, redder hair seems like a metaphor for how different the course of her life would have been had she had kept William—i.e. her hair wouldn’t have changed as much from her signature red bob. It was interesting how at the first sign of trouble in her daydream (William getting injured), her red hair becomes blonder and how at the second hint of trouble (William turning alien), it becomes curlier.

Walter Skinner, the “new” FBI, and the return of The X-Files

The way Skinner and “his” agents interacted in his office was such a breath of heartwarming familiarity. It was also such a breath of fresh air to see how far this character has come around in the way his loyalties are quite clear now. It made me chuckle how, as soon as the Department of Defense representative left Skinner’s office, the Assistant Director’s tone and facial expression both changed. It was also nice how well he still knows Mulder what with his assumption that the agent made copies of the files.

The DOD representative could be a hint that the forces acting against the trio might be much more obvious this time around. I can’t help but wonder what Skinner has been up to in the last decade; I have a feeling that he continued the work as well as he could while keeping himself as clean as he could, and that his insistence and push to have The X-Files reinstated might have to do with both how clean he has seemingly become in the eyes of his superiors and how much influence he has managed to develop.

This might be the key to the relatively easy reinstatement of The X-Files under the responsibility of this particular trio. Because while the question of how Mulder and Scully ended up back at the FBI is a fun one to consider—we can assume that there was a lot of off-screen, sometimes hilarious action in this regard, from re-training, re-qualifying, becoming up to date with processes and procedures, etc.—what I am interested in the most is how Skinner, who is still “just” an assistant director, managed to pull off re-re-opening The X-Files and re-re-assigning Mulder and Scully to them despite everything that happened. Yes, he might have more influence now and might have learned to play the game, but would that alone be enough? Or could it simply be that enough time has passed for this to happen? If so, it begs another question: at which point did the Cigarette-Smoking Man learn that The X-Files are opened again? And why didn’t he stop it from happening?

Speaking of which, is Skinner sure that his office isn’t bugged? By the same token, are Mulder and Scully sure that theirs isn’t?

Augustus Goldman and The Project

After all, Mulder does have an excellent point: The Project has probably not been abandoned. If that’s the case, after how the last phase of The Project ended, no doubt the level of protection surrounding the new leaders is a lot thicker now than ever before. Analysis of Kyle’s blood might help us understand a little more what is going on, and I hope there will be follow-up on this matter.

Which brings us to the close of this review with yet another big question: where are Molly and Kyle? If they are as powerful as they seem to be, and Goldman’s ward was, indeed, part of The Project, could the siblings return to the show and perhaps even become powerful allies to our trio?

The X-Files Revival Cheat Sheet Number 5: Infographics galore

While hard-core X-Files fans have kept abreast of the show since Season 9 ended in 2002, many fans of the show, while still carrying around fond memories, are having a hard time remembering some of the details of the show.  This leads, among others, to some interesting reviews that ask questions that have long been answered a few seasons past.

While the initial excitement is still quite high at the moment, what with the airing of the first two episodes of the new season and the anticipation of what promises to be a hilarious third episode, there seems to be enough of an attention span available to go through some of the basics again.  Today’s cheat sheet brings together a couple of great infographics that range from basic information to interesting tidbits from the show.  They are great to refresh your memory, to stroll down memory lane, or in any attempt in figuring out what the heck happened in the season’s first episode.

Traveling the United States

While this infographic won’t help you catch up, I’m starting with it because it’s just plain fun.  Long before the Winchester brothers hit the roads of the country in search of big bads to kill, Agents Mulder and Scully were already there (OK, find, they were traveling by air, but still) getting the world rid of all kinds of creepy things.  Suprisingly enough, sun-filled California is the home of a number of creepy crawlies…

Basic Information

Fox put together this handy little infographic which contains a lot more information at second (and third, and fourth…) glance.  For example, consider the number of times Mulder called Scully “Dana” in the course of the show’s first nine seasons.

Mythology Timeline Infographic

This infographic comes in quite handy in putting the pieces of the mythology together.  Its creators have put together all the hints, allusions, and information we have been fed in the first nine seasons of the show and put them in chronological order.  I can’t help but wonder how useful this infographic would be in keeping Mulder from acting impulsively and basically forgetting so much of what he has previously uncovered to replace it with O’Malley’s narrative.

Familiar Vancouver Locations

Just like the new episodes, the ones in Seasons 1 through 5 were filmed in moody, overcast Vancouver.  If you live there or plan to visit, this simple infographic will come in handy for you to visit some familiar looking locations as a graduation gift for figuring out all X-Files related questions.

Bonus: X-Files and Breaking Bad

If you went over and beyond in your search for the truth, you definitely deserve this little bonus infographic, which will uncover some more obvious and some surprising relationships between The X-Files and Breaking Bad.

TV Review: The X-Files, Season 10, Episode 1: ‘My Struggle’

With his first new episode of The X-Files in over a decade, Chris Carter jumped straight back into the thick of things, giving viewers next to no time to catch-up or even to breathe.

Which isn’t a bad thing.

It just means that fans are going to have to do a lot of the guesswork themselves, putting the pieces together to map out what has happened since we last saw Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. But while online fan forums reflect a broad spectrum of questions and concerns, I personally only have three.

The first thing I would like to figure out is what happened to Mulder, to Scully, and to their relationship since. Then I would like to find out what happened to Mulder’s investigation of the truth. And finally, I would like to find out what is currently at the heart of the conspiracy driving the mythology forward.

The X-Files’ Mythology

At this point in time, we only have a one-sided idea of what the government conspiracy is, an idea heavily influenced by Tad O’Malley’s, erm, unique and passionate opinions. It’s easy to see why O’Malley and Mulder hit it off: the pundit sounds just as paranoid, if not more, than the former FBI agent. I can’t help but wonder if O’Malley’s extreme views will help Mulder realise that he should take Scully much more seriously than he does. Actually, no: I hope this is what will happen.

We also meet Mulder’s newest informant in a long, long line of them. This time, it is a medical doctor who was called to the scene of the crash of a UFO. His conscience started hurting the moment he saw an alien for the first time. It was injured from the crash and immediately shot to death by a fedora toting government agent (is the fedora a nod to Fringe?) His guilt only increased as his medical findings were used in ways he was increasingly uncomfortable with, although he didn’t stop contributing to the advancement of the related science. There is something very Bill Mulder about this attitude, and I can’t help but wonder if Mulder is helping in a way his father seek his redemption by helping this particular informant.

It’s all a little muddled, to be honest, even for a show that has muddled its mythology line a few times even in the peak of its glory days. The muddling is all the more muddled that a lot was packed into one episode and the opening sequence didn’t set the tone for the episode like it usually does. I sometimes felt like crucial information was left on the floor of the editing room, cut out to make the episode fit in forty-something minutes. But had this episode been unpacked into an hour and a half instead to explore what was happening, it could have been a lot less confusing. And although I can understand why Carter chose the opening we were treated to, I can’t help but feel that one featuring Sveta being tested on or taken away, Duane Barry-style, would have done a lot more to set the tone.

But then again, I am reminded of the first dozen or so mythology related episodes of the show. They were at times quite muddled and confusing, which turned into one of the driving principles of the show: that pursuing the truth is a convoluted, confusing thing that requires a lot of doggedness to get to the end of.

Fox Mulder

No wonder, then, that Mulder got depressed (if Sveta is to be believed). We had already seen him during the show’s original nine seasons yo-yoing between idealistic and fresh eyed to bitter and at times broken. His ups and downs colored his view of whatever proof would come his way to the extent that he would either immediately conclude it was aliens or would lash out angrily at the thickness of the veils that had been placed around the truth by men like the Cigarette Smoking Man.

Mulder’s actions in this episode make it seem like he wants to go back, at whatever cost, to those days during which he must have felt as alive as Scully told O’Malley she had felt. It’s almost like, desperate to recapture his glory days, he is willing to jump right on the O’Malley bandwagon. And while one can feel grateful that the pundit got a fire lit under Mulder’s you=know-what, one also feels that conditions are ripe yet again for Mulder to be—yet again—led by the nose by where greater forces want him to be led.

It looks like Mulder has not yet learned his lesson, quite unfortunately: that his almost impetuous drive to find the truth, if not tempered with wisdom, will be used against him. This puts him in the very same place he has always been, fighting the same demon that has haunted him since we met him: his narrow-minded view of the truth. He is always willing to throw out of the window everything he has seen and learned at any new lead that seems more solid. I hope these new episodes will see him grow a little, take a step back and evaluate new information in light of everything he has seen and learned over the years, rather than go on a completely new tangent yet again.

Dana Scully

I’m also hoping that Scully will be allowed to move out of the narrow confines her character has been forced to stay in for far too long: the skeptic at all cost. Tired of the darkness and wanting more than the pursuit of the truth at the cost of logic and a scientific approach, I can see how she is in a position to yet again dig her heels deep into the ground to counter Mulder’s impetuousness. But that would be a big mistake; Scully, as a scientist who, during the last seasons of the show, had understood that science as we currently define it can’t explain everything, seems to be in a stronger position than Mulder to find the truth. I hope that Carter and the show’s other writers will not water her down to a parody of her former self at the beginning of The X-Files’ run. I’m hoping that instead, she will be able to more strongly balance out Mulder’s opinions with her more informed, scientific, and thorough view of the truth.

Mulder and Scully

However long their breakup has lasted, “My Struggle” sees Mulder and Scully renew their working relationship. I really hope we won’t have to go back to the old “he believes despite evidence to the contrary, she doesn’t despite evidence to the contrary” routine (although for now it looks like that’s where the show is going). This dichotomy that their views are mutually exclusive has lasted long enough; at this point in time, they are ready to move forward. Perhaps instead, Mulder and Scully’s working relationship could become much more consultative. They are different enough to be able to balance each other out perfectly and get to the truth together much faster.

As for their personal relationship, well, while they still obviously care deeply about each other, there is just as clearly some resentment brewing just below the surface, resentment no doubt related to the state of Mulder and Scully’s working relationship. I don’t think they should be together again unless and until they have figured out how to work together, rather than in opposition to one another.

Final Thoughts on The X-Files Revival

There is both good news and bad news at this point in time: The X-Files’ familiar strengths and weaknesses are both quite present in this episode. For one, Scully and Mulder’s characters don’t seem to have evolved much as individuals. So much hasn’t been explained that it’s at times too confusing and doesn’t help us enough in fitting what we are being shown with what we learned during the show’s initial run. But I, for one, am willing to give Chris Carter a chance, because let’s be honest: I have been waiting for this for a long, long time.

The X-Files Revival: Reviving More Than Just Aliens and Monsters-of-the-Week

It doesn’t seem far-fetched to claim, in North America at least, that the majority of people would agree that men and women are equal. However, it’s one thing to say it and quite another to act on it. In 2016, we continue to see a lot of contradictions between what we say we believe in and what our actions imply that we believe in. Some recent examples include the hubbub caused by the importance placed on gender parity in the recently appointed Canadian cabinet and how feminist writers, besieged by online abuse, have often no choice left but to retire.

In light of the magnitude of the challenge, the gender issue that inspired me to write this post seems like small potatoes. But it actually is quite significant in many ways.

This is something that happened when The X-Files first aired in 1993.

This is something that happened and is happening again to an actress who portrayed perhaps one of the first strong female leads in television history.

This is something that is happening not just to Gillian Anderson, but to most female actresses.

The news came out only a couple of days ago that Anderson was offered half of what co-star David Duchovny was offered to reprise her role as Agent Dana Scully. Now you might be tempted to go on a side rant about how actors who are already paid so much shouldn’t complain about not being paid “enough”. I agree that being paid a seven figure salary to act in a movie when teachers on average make US$50,000 in the United States puts into sharp focus what our priorities as a society are. However, the fact that actors are consistently paid so much more than actresses is yet another injustice that needs to be addressed, all the more than the gender pay gap continues to live on in nearly every occupation.

I like that there has been no man-bashing involved, at least as far as I could tell. Anderson didn’t go around insulting men and angrily screaming at whatever gods she believes in. Rather, she made it about the topic: gender equality. Her gracious way of addressing the issue makes of her voice a solid contribution to the discourse about what gender equality looks like. And while Anderson’s stand for equal pay might not in itself change the situation in Hollywood, she is adding her voice to an increasing number of actresses who are decrying the injustice. I’m hoping that actors will also start lending their voice to this cause, which would bring us even closer to a future where both genders are treated equally.

The X-Files Revival Cheat Sheet Number 4: Digging Around for the Truth

I’m assuming that the initial excitement is still quite high at the moment, between last night’s premiere of The X-Files revival and the anticipation of tonight’s episode.  I’m also assuming that, after last night’s episode, there is a thirst to find out more about, well, everything: from how this six-episode event was put together to it’s relation to the Season 10 and 11 comics, how was it for the old cast and some of the old crew to get back together on such familiar yet somewhat muddied with time grounds, to any information about Chris Carter’s vision for the future of his shows.  Today’s cheat sheet is the first of a couple dedicated to some great interviews that have been given over the last few months about the revival and the show.  Hopefully it’ll help tide you over while you struggle to remain focused at work…

X-Files creator Chris Carter says reboot will reflect new truths out there

There was a lot of information flying around about the revival, but the essentials are in this piece (with more to come in upcoming Sahar’s Blog X-Files Cheat Sheets.)

ECCC ’15: Talking To Joe Harris About X-Files Season 11 Comic From IDW
The X-Files: Joe Harris talks X-Files Season 10 and the Revival

One of the hard-core fans’ initial concerns was the placement of the Season 10 and 12 comics in the show’s canon, a question that was thankfully addressed early on.

‘X-Files’ Reunion: David Duchovny Reveals Who Made Him Wear a Speedo
Chris Carter looks back at ‘The X-Files’ series finale: ‘We really came of age with the Internet’

While these older posts don’t have anything to do with the revival, they give a good glimpse into what went into getting the show back as well as the dynamics that fed the team that brought it to life during its original run.

The X-Files Lexicon’s exclusive interview with Vince Gilligan

As a writer, I always find it interesting to get the writing staff’s perspective on the show, and Vince Gilligan remains, to this day, a fan favorite.

David Duchovny on the New ‘X-Files’ and Why Mulder Was a Terrible F.B.I. Agent
Gillian Anderson: It’s time somebody was brave enough to ask me out
MEFCC: The X-Files’ Gillian Anderson is the star celebrity at Comic Con

Of course the actors who portrayed the show’s main characters have a unique perspective which always make for interesting discussion topics.

New ‘X-Files’ Series Could Continue Past 6 Episodes

And ending this on a high note: there is hope for more X-Files episodes, guys… :)

The X-Files Revival Cheat Sheet Number 3: When a Blogger can’t Blog

I really wanted to have a productive evening.  Really, I did.  But as the clock ticks closer to the airing time of the new episode of The X-Files, well, there isn’t much I can do other than fangirl.

Tonight’s to-do list included writing something deeper about The X-Files, say, something about the clash of opinions bringing the spark of truth that defined Mulder and Scully’s relationship, if Mulder was avant-garde when it came to gender relations, how much of a role model Scully actually is…  But none of these posts made it past the initial draft phase.

So I have to resort to some of the pieces that I wrote in the past about this favorite show of mine.

The X-Files Revival Featured Post 1: About my ongoing Love Affair with the show.

“Many of you have asked me why I like The X-Files so much. There are many reasons for this love—such as a fascination with the paranormal, an admiration for the chemistry between Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, a deep appreciation for the work of the supporting cast, loving Chris Carter’s take on government conspiracies and alien abductions—but one stands out the most, one that will no doubt make readers of this blog nod their heads in understanding: the main reason I love this show is the respectful, loving way with which two different people with drastically different points of views are able, for so many years, to constructively work together, putting their differing opinions and world views together to solve the most impossible of cases.”

The X-Files Revival Featured Post 2: Dana Scully’s Sacrifice Doesn’t Make her Pathetic, Mister.

“I recently rediscovered a commentary on the show written a couple of years ago which features a point of view I have seldom (if ever) read before. In X-Files: Scully’s Tragic Journey, Scott Mendelson discusses how the show was about the journey of Dana Scully’s assimilation and her ultimate destruction as she got increasingly wrapped in the alien conspiracy (i.e. the mythology), paying a steep price (the murder of her sister, her own abduction, her ensuing infertility, etc.) While Mendelson acknowledges that Fox Mulder also paid a dear price, he argues that, as the quest was his to begin with, it cannot compare to what Scully, an innocent bystander of sorts, paid.

No doubt Scully’s life would have ended up quite differently had she never met Mulder. But to blame him for her destruction seems quite patronizing. On the one hand, it implies that Mulder’s position as a believer, the one she has joined him in, is below that of a non-believer. On the other hand, it places the onus of her current position on Mulder, making of Scully a helpless, hapless, weak female caught in the grasp of stronger male. This of course completely demeans the capacity of one of the strongest, most empowered female protagonists in recent television history.”

The X-Files Revival Features Post 3: The X-Files Aren’t Perfect ::gasp::

“…while Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully did understand the basics of consultation, they were not detached enough from their personal views to feed off each other adequately enough to find the truth quicker and more efficiently. Instead, they clung (and sometimes obstinately and at great cost) to their perspective. One example of this is when, after Mulder disappears, Scully tried to step into his shoes by becoming “the believer”. The challenge was that she had never walked in those shoes and doesn’t fit in them; she ended up leading her new partner, John Doggett, in places they should never have gone into in the first place.

Similarly, Mulder’s obstinate, narrow view of the world as a place where the paranormal abounds and belief that everyone would only think of him as “Spooky” denied him the opportunity to systematically record all the happenings he had witnessed over the course of his career in The X-Files, and thus to lose the opportunity to gain many a supporter to his cause. It’s almost like he was keeping his belief in the paranormal safe by denying it scientific treatment.”