It’s been thirteen years since the final episode of The X-Files aired, until now that is. Following the recent trend for series revivals, Fox has resurrected the cult show for a brand new mini-series of six episodes, reuniting original creator Chris Carter with stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. The thought of seeing Agents Mulder and Scully back on screen together is enough to make any TV fan giddy with excitement, but just because you can bring something back doesn’t mean you should. Will the new revival be able to justify its own existence? I want to believe.
If it’s been a few years since you last caught an episode, or are one of the uninitiated, not to worry, the series kicks off with a lengthy recap to get everyone up to speed. From then, the story takes off at a tremendous pace, with Agent Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) reaching out to Dana Scully (Anderson) in an attempt to introduce both her and Fox Mulder (Duchovny) to Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale), a popular internet conspiracy theorist. Whilst it’s thrilling to see Mulder and Scully reunited, there’s so much plot to get through that none of their scenes allow time for their famous chemistry to shine. Sure, they were always a slow-burn pairing and we’ve another five episodes for sparks to fly, but it doesn’t help that Duchovny seems rather bored with the material.The conspiracy that O’Malley is trying to prove also seems a bit far fetched, even for The X-Files. After finding a serial abductee, he hopes to show that all supposed extraterrestrial activity since the 1947 Roswell crash has been a government conspiracy, and Mulder, a man who has spent his entire life searching for said extraterrestrial life, gets on board with this idea after what can only be a day or so. Mulder may have always been the one ready to believe strange ideas but even this feels like a big leap for him. Thankfully Scully is on hand to talk some sense and it’s Anderson who really shines in this episode, reminding us again just why her character was so revolutionary.
Modern TV owes a huge debt to The X-Files and it’s potentially a fascinating time to revive a show that revolves so much around government conspiracies. But in a post 9/11 world that sense of distrust, which previously felt unthreatening and almost kitsch, takes on a different feeling; we now live in a world of wikileaks and cyber security. If the series is genuinely going down the global Illuminati-esque apocalypse route, then it may have missed the mark.
It’s surprising after such an info dump not to have a good idea of where the series is going and though this episode was predominantly setup, I’m not entirely clear what exactly it was setting up (besides the reopening of the titular X-Files, of course). It seems the series’ main draw is going to be the simple joy of Mulder and Scully back together again and if that’s not enough, well there’s always the iconic 90’s opening titles to keep you happy. They just don’t make them like they used to.
The X-Files airs Mondays at 9PM on Channel 5