Ex Files: Can We Make it Work?
By Amanda Rossenrode
Okay guys, I watched the first episode of the new X-Files. A show that, for all the hoopla leading up to it over the last few months, didn’t seem to remember to make the premiere date very clear. I’ve seen the same singing cat video posted on, like, six websites and shared by several of my friends, but The X-Files returns after fourteen years and--hey, look at the silly test answers from kids!
I loved The X-Files when I was younger. It gave me nightmares as a kid that sent me and my sleeping bag flying into my parents’ room. Anyone who has had a conversation with me knows I fear aliens more than death or public speaking. I was scared of the show, but I loved it. Following closely on the heels of my extraterrestrial phobia were ghosts, yetis, chupacabras, mind readers, and hill folk. The X-Files did some bang-up episodes on each of the aforementioned boogie men and introduced me to new horrors to dread seeing outside my window at night.
The conspiracy part of the show I didn’t get into as much. For the reasons I mentioned earlier, my parents didn’t dig me watching it as a kid, so I rarely caught episodes in sequence. When I got back into it later, I mostly watched the syndicated reruns on FX. They were either shown out of order or in huge blocks. Even now that it's available on Netflix, we rarely sit down and watch a season in order. It's more fun to handpick the really cool ones (Remember the satanic school? The lady under the bed?! The ghost ship?!!). I always preferred the monster-of-the-week episodes to the conspiracy arcs.
Which brings me to the new season. It's pretty clear that they are doing a conspiracy arc. I understand their reasoning. As much as I would love it, it would be pretty ridiculous to haul Mulder and Scully out, after all that’s transpired, and have them chase prehistoric bird attacks and the like, and then shut it back down. It needs to have a clear beginning and end. The premise for the conspiracy is interesting if convoluted (Mulder literally had to explain it to three different characters before it was even relatively clear to me what was going on). I will also mention that I watched it on my laptop and for whatever reason (Probably aliens. Or the government.), the video was running a little slow during the climax. But I started to worry that maybe this would not be the comeback I was hoping for. Because in cases like these, it usually isn’t.
As an audience we fall in love with shows and our hearts break when we have to say goodbye to characters we have followed for years. Even when binge watching, it's tough to realize you’re two episodes away from the end. You save those for next weekend. Sometimes, we have to say adieu and remember them when they were best. Not drag their corpses out of their final resting place and make them dance for us a decade later. Remember that episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? with the raven's claw? Remember when the kid wished for his dead grandpa to come back before realizing, holy crap, his dead grandpa is walking up the porch steps? We have become that kid.
Recently the creators and cast of the hit show Friends were badgered about the possibility of follow-up movies and seasons. In response, the creator of the show, Marta Kauffman, said, “Never… We just felt like this show is about a certain time in your life, and once you’re past that time in your life, the show is over.” Fans of HBO’s Sex and the City begged for a movie. And boy, did they get two misguided attempts to recapture lightning in a bottle.
What I took from these two vastly different attitudes on the subject of reunions is, that you have to remember the premise of a show that was adored and what made it successful. Sex and the City was about thirty-something singles in New York and gaudy fashion accessories. Sex and the City 2 was about entitled women in their fifties being culturally insensitive in Dubai. Why tell that story? In instances like Firefly and Arrested Development, there was a need for a real sense of closure, as fans felt the shows left the screen too soon. With shows that were given ample time to complete their orbit of the story telling, it may be best to leave the future of the characters in the imagination of the viewer. It may be unnecessary to bring them back a decade later and tell us we were wrong. While I am anticipating the Netflix return of Gilmore Girls, some of the key cast is unavailable or has passed (RIP Richard Gilmore). It will undoubtedly change the show.
Did Tony Soprano get whacked? Did Joey Tribbiani become a successful actor? Did Jesse Pinkman make it to where he was going? Think about what you would like to believe. Think about what would be incredibly disappointing.
So, The X-Files is back and we have some answers. Mulder and Scully didn’t make it as a couple. They’re older now. There is an air of sadness and resignation in their attitude. Mulder resembles Harrison Ford in The Crystal Skull and still wants to believe. You can feel, whether it radiates directly from Duchovny or the character Mulder, that he’s been down this road before and is exhausted by the implication of travelling it again. Scully, after twenty-three frigging years of seeing every hob-goblin ever and being abducted like ten times, is still the skeptic. Let’s see where it goes. Hopefully this season satisfies us, and Mulder and Scully can lead happy lives.
I want to believe.