The following review may contain mild spoilers for the first episode of The X-Files miniseries.
We’ve known for years that the truth was still out there. The only question was whether or not The X-Files showrunner Chris Carter would ever reveal it to us. Tonight, he brought us back into a world that we have not visited for some time, as David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reprised their roles as legendary FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully.
The first episode of the revival, “My Struggle,” begins with Mulder discussing his history investigating the X-Files and the mystery of his sister’s abduction before providing a brief overview of the history of documented alien abductions. He believes that his work has become a joke, that nobody remembers anything except for Roswell. Fittingly, Roswell sets the scene for a number of flashbacks we receive throughout the episode.
Joel McHale plays a new character named Tad O’Malley, a conservative talk show host who believes that the 9/11 attacks were somehow related to the Roswell incident. Mulder doesn’t really love O’Malley when the two first meet, believing that he only claims to believe in conspiracies because they make him money. Had the show focused too much on September 11, I probably would have made the same claim about Chris Carter. Fortunately, things go in a different direction.
The conspiracy that begins in this episode is strange in that it revolves around an alien plot largely conducted by humans, but in many ways this was set up by the original series. This revival feels very much like a continuation of the old show, right down to the opening credit sequence. That’s not to say that the world of The X-Files is not highly influenced by the many changes that have occurred in the world since the original series ended, and that most certainly includes the 9/11 attacks. But the conspiracy being investigated has a lot of earmarks that will strike a tone of familiarity with long-term fans.
That said, certain aspects of the old formula feel a bit dated these days. Mulder’s paranoid rambling is most certainly one of them. He goes on a few rants in this first episode that really don’t work, as he makes a few claims for which he doesn’t seem to have any evidence. Tad does the same thing at one point, effectively combining every single internet conspiracy theory you’ve ever read into one long-winded bombast. And that’s really what it is, because there’s not much substance in Tad’s theory. The government is trying to control us through money, the Patriot Act, fast food, etc. It comes across as a general “evil government is evil” storyline that doesn’t work too hard to do anything unique. The worst part of all of this is one particular conversation between Mulder and a Roswell scientist. The scientist wants to tell Mulder his secrets, but won’t do so until Mulder has figured them out. This makes sense because…why? Sorry, I guess I misspoke. This makes no sense whatsoever.
The ending is the part that jumps in to hopefully save the series a bit. The last couple of scenes will have fans looking forward to the rest of this revival, as it appears that the conspiracy is going to get a lot deeper. We see the death of a character who doesn’t deserve to die, the return of a character who doesn’t deserve to live, and hints that Tad’s rant might be based more in truth than we know.
The X-Files will be comprised of six episodes in total. Two more will follow the conspiracy introduced tonight, while three will be standalone episodes. Tonight may not have been a perfect execution, but it’s still exciting to see the X-Files reopened. Regardless of whether or not the series winds up meeting the expectations that fans have been setting since it was announced, I’ll definitely be watching. If you want to believe, then you’ll be watching as well.
The X-Files continues with a second episode, “Founder’s Mutation,” Monday at 8PM EST.