the x- files

Crazy like a Fox

SFX - - News - Ian Ber­ri­man

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.

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