If you were reading my recaps of the new episodes of The X-Files earlier this month, you may have realized that they suddenly stopped appearing here. And that is because I stopped writing them, because I thought the reboot was terrible — yes, even the one where the man is a were-lizard or whatever — and they were filling me with rage. (Also — Real Talk: Business Edition — not enough people were reading them to make the effort worth my man-hours when I also had Downton and War & Peace and The People vs OJ Simpson and everything else on my plate.) Anyway, the whole thing made me very:
So I stopped writing them and felt much happier and far less full of blinding irritation. But I promised we’d discuss the reboot as a whole, and so we shall. Please feel free to wax poetic with your thoughts in the comments, as I am very interested to hear what everyone else thought of this reboot, now that it’s over. Personally, I cannot begin without talking about this:
WTF. The 5th episode in this season — and I understand they ultimately aired in a different order than originally intended — featured Mulder on a placebo-induced ‘shrooms trip that is literally the most horrifying thing I’ve seen on TV in 2016. It was cringe-y, and it was absurd, and it was like 45 minutes long, in the middle of an episode that also managed to be lazy, racist, and nonsensical all at once. THIS HAPPENED:
Chris Carter should not be allowed to do anything without supervision.
My feelings, now that I have time to gather them, though, are that I was never going to like this reboot, unless it was truly exceptional — and that’s a lot to ask of anything. I think there are a few kinds of fans of The X-Files: those who were just happy to have Moose and Squirrel back on their TV, doing Mulder and Scully things (and I’d argue that these episodes had Mulder and Scully apart so often that you guys weren’t particularly well-served); those of us who went into this with an open mind, but who were prepared to realize that it’s often impossible to recapture lightning in a bottle; and those of us for whom the well had been poisoned already, and who came into this series with a long-dormant muscle memory of rage, and realized they just could not do it. I thought I was in the middle group, but I was totally in the last one.
Rebooting The X-Files was a difficult assignment. It’s a show that was once great, but which devolved into total nonsense at its last, and that total nonsense comprised — unfortunately for these writers — a lot of plot. This is also a show that famously doesn’t use a show Bible, which is very:
THIS SHOW IS COMPLICATED. HOW CAN YOU — no, see? This is why I stopped covering it. My point is that The X-Files reboot was always set up to fail. As much as I loved the first run — and I did; my original recaps, although frustrated, were ultimately full of love for the first seven seasons — and as much as I also had a frisson of joy to see Mulder and Scully and Skinner and CSM back in action, I don’t know if this show was left in a place where it was even possible to bring it back in a way that felt artistically successful once you removed the element of nostalgia. Not, at any rate, without two years in the writers room, banging out a very tight, perfectly composed, six-episode arc. Instead, this entire season to me felt like a first draft. And that’s not really even an indictment of it. This was a nearly impossible assignment. They needed more time. (They needed Vince Gilligan, who both wrote my own personal favorite episodes, but who also proved with Breaking Bad a sincerely masterful command of plot.)
I realize I may be being unfair here, in a lot of ways. I know that people who disagreed with my final recap of episode three essentially wondered why I couldn’t just enjoy it. (And please don’t think I am annoyed by those comments; I’m not. They were not unkind. In fact, they made me realize I didn’t want to be covering this show weekly, at all, and I am grateful for that.) I wondered that myself. Writing the recaps of the final two seasons for TWoP was an honestly transformative writing experience for me, and to come into this new season, to cover it anew, and find myself needing to throw in the towel made me very sad, and disappointed in myself. But it’s been nearly fifteen years, and it seems that you cannot go home again. You cannot even go back to “Home” again, as we learned in episode four of this season, which they titled “Home Again,” primarily because said episode also used an old standard to (allegedly) chilling effect, I guess? (There were no inbred people hidden under beds.)
It’s a kind of bittersweet thing.
I shall not even attempt to untangle the mass of cables and cords stuffed behind the TV console that is the myth-arc at this point. If the overall failure of this reboot to recapture my youthful enthusiasm and joy about this show made me all Sad Scully In Bed, the mess of the mythology leaves me more:
Anthrax? OKAY. (That said, maybe the last twenty minutes of the finale were compelling to me. Is it weird if I wish they’d just STARTED there, in the middle of the alien DNA shitshow?)
Regardless, I’m interested to hear what you thought. Please don’t feel like you’re wrong if you enjoyed it, or you thought it was awesome despite flaws — or even if you found it flawless. I honestly believe myself psychologically incapable of coming back to The X-Files in anything less than a perfect incarnation, and that’s certainly not possible. For me…