the x- files
Crazy like a Fox
Our judgement on the return of Mulder and Scully.
UK Broadcast Fox, finished
US Broadcast Channel 5, finished
Episodes Reviewed 10.01- 10.06
Though frustratingly brief, this “event series” return for the classic ’ 90s show does a good job of encapsulating its qualities – and not only its strengths, but also its weaknesses. It’s nearly 14 years since Agents Mulder and Scully last took to the small screen, but that perspective doesn’t seem to have facilitated any lesson-learning. Certainly, no one’s taken creator Chris Carter to one side to whisper, “Knock the convoluted arc stuff on the head, eh?”
In a season of wildly fluctuating quality, the Carter- penned bookending instalments are the weakest link. There are so many things wrong with aptly- named opener “My Struggle” ( it’s a struggle to watch) that it’s difficult to pinpoint the most egregious. Is it the scene where Mulder returns to his old FBI office to find his “I Want To Believe” poster lying on the floor, still in pristine condition? Is it the speed with which Mulder abandons decades of belief in an alien invasion conspiracy on the word of one young woman? Actually, no: it’s when Duchovny is tasked with delivering a paranoid history of the post- war period in the manner of a man wearily reading out the chapter headings of The Collected Works Of David Icke. The pandemic- panic season- closer which continues the story isn’t much better, but at least moves at a fair old clip.
After “My Struggle” the only way is up. Mutant-kids- with-telekinetic- powers tale “Founder’s Mutation” ( 10.02) has “middling season two episode” written all over it, but at this distance from the ’ 90s that induces a warm glow of nostalgia. There’s something bracingly bonkers about the whiplash- inducing tonal shifts of
Carter’s bookends are the weakest link
“Home Again” ( 10.04), which glues a soppy subplot about Scully’s dying mother to an A- plot about homicidal street art, even though garbage- monster/ social justice warrior Trashman isn’t exactly in the same league as Candyman; we’re meant to shiver at the sight of this bin juice- oozing bogeyman’s discarded Band Aids, but a more likely response is a hearty guffaw. “Babylon” ( 10.05) is equally bizarre, mashing together comedy trip sequences for Fox with a slightly offensive 24- style Islamist terror plot.
But all these bum notes are forgiven because of episode three, which props up the quality graph like a tentpole. Darin Morgan wrote many of the classic series’ best eps, and while “Mulder And Scully Meet The Were- Monster” is not his best work, it’s still hilarious and sweetly charming.
While the series also introduces a pair of own- brand Mulder and Scullys in the shape of young FBI agents Miller and Einstein, hopefully this is just an insurance policy ( or a contract negotiation strategy...), because this season’s one consistent strength is the interplay between Duchovny and Anderson. When given a chance to show his comedy chops Duchovny bats it out of the park, and Anderson is capable of breaking your heart; she’s really honed her craft over all those years away from the genre. The Mulder and Scully relationship now has real depth, and the possibility that the two might strike out in search of William, the son they had to give up, is far more compelling than any flannel about chem trails and alien DNA. While much of this series retreads old ground, you sense there could be fresh territory to be explored in the strange world of parenthood. Here’s hoping Duchovny and Anderson get the chance to investigate it.
“You know, I’ve always held a torch for you.”
Miller and Einstein are getting those Mulder and Scully poses off pat.
Thank goodness he doesn’t want to snog Mulder too.