The X-Files, Season 10

The X-Files Season 10Confession time: My first childhood fear was of being abducted by aliens.

Wait, no. It was of the Blob. I saw 1958’s The Blob on a Sunday matinee program when I was probably four or five, and it scared the crap out of me. I started leaving toys all over the floor of my room so that if I got up in the middle of the night, I’d be able to tell if the Blob was in my room because, obviously, if it was, it would have eaten them. It didn’t help with the fact that I knew the Blob was hiding under my bed, but hey. I did what I could.

When I got over the fear of the Blob, I was okay for a little bit, but then stories of alien abduction were all over the place, and that was a more enduring fear. These days, I’m not scared of much beyond high places and centipedes, (because really! What needs that many legs?) but there are still moments where I’ll be laying in bed and think, “What would I do if a Gray alien was peeking through the window right now?” The whole alien abduction/UFO phenomena still hits a nerve with me, and, frankly, I think that’s part of the reason why I loved The X-Files in its hay day. The mythos was scary in a way that little else (outside of the Borg, pre-overuse) was scary.

I didn’t catch the show in its first few seasons. I didn’t actually catch it until the first film came out. But when I think back to the golden days of youth, it’s always Saturday night. I’m playing an SNES rom or MUD over a dial up connection in the living room, and usually I am the only one awake (save for my father, depending on the shift he was on.) Red Dwarf is on around midnight, Stargate SG-1 at1 AM, and The X-Files rounds it out at 2. They’re good memories.

X-Files-UFO-CrashI’m probably late in reviewing season 10 of The X-Files. For whatever reason, I didn’t set the DVR for it. Maybe it was the fact that I’ve never really gotten around to finishing season nine. But I discovered it was On Demand last week and watched all six episodes in the course of a few days. The fact that I, a married, gainfully employed seminarian working on a novel in his spare time managed to watch six episodes of anything in two or three days should probably say volumes. Usually it’s about an episode a night after my wife’s gone to bed; instead, it was several episodes while I gloried in reliving my teenage years.

Season 10 is essentially a microcosm of The X-Files at its peak. In six episodes, we get two mythos-centric episodes bookending it, a monster of the week or two that have a tenuous connection to the mythos, and a couple of monsters of the week that stand on their own. “My Struggle,” the first episode of the season, throws us right back into the mythos by taking us to a new perspective on the Roswell crash and a new perspective on the activity of both the aliens and the Cigarette Smoking Man. It’s actually kind of a Doctor Who-ish regeneration style reboot; we’re picking up where left off, but “My Struggle” changes the entire narrative by recasting the aliens as something far less hostile and the government as something far more hostile. It’s a change that’s interesting, and it’s definitely intended to play into the cultural zeitgeist, but I’m not sure that it’s a change I would have made.

the-x-files-duchovny-were-monsterThe middle of the season, as I said, is a sequence of four more or less standalone episodes. There’s still some character growth, and an arc that’s being followed– Dana’s grief over giving up their son for adoption features prominently– but the episodes are monster of the week episodes, for better or for worse. None of them are truly bad, but there was one– I believe it’s the fifth episode, “Babylon”– that falls short for me.  On the other hand, the third episode, “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” was fantastic. It’s a light hearted romp that calls to mind season five’s “Bad Blood” and can be summed up quite nicely by Scully’s line halfway through: “I forgot how much fun these cases can be, Mulder.”

It’s all too easy to prey upon nostalgia, and in this age of reboots, it’s all too easy for people to just throw stuff on TV or a movie screen in an attempt to fleece audiences of their cash without putting any effort into it. Pleasingly, while season 10 shares the same highs and lows of the previous iteration of The X-Files, this isn’t the case with the show. It’s not exactly the same show; time has passed, and the world has changed, but we get that same sense of change and passing time from the show. Chris Carter hasn’t just gone back to the old formula without reflecting on it.

The X-Files first run came during the 1990s. We were relatively affluent and the world was relatively peaceful. This second run comes at a time when economies are shaky and the world is in turmoil in a way that we haven’t seen in a long time. If ever there was a time ripe for a pair of heroes searching for the truth through government cover-ups, it’s now, so here’s to hoping season 11 comes alone.