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The X Files Season 11 Finale is Weak

Having just finished the last episode of the new X-Files revival, I’m left with a deeply disappointed feeling. It had so much potential, yet wasted almost all of it.

It doesn’t feel like the characters move about in a living world, like the original episodes did, they are closer to a stage play, with a very limited area that’s covered and very limited interaction. It’s rather remarkable how Chris Carter achieved that with what couldn’t have been a small budget. The point is, a stage play lives by its actors, the characters they portray, the emotions and complications, the tension and release. In this regard, the episodes fall flat on their face. Emphasis on flat. There is just about nothing that gets me invested in the story. In fact, at one time the following popped into my head: “I just don’t care about your fucking problems, Mulder and Scully.” There are real problems out there, people dying, starving, being exploited by rich elites who don’t give a shit. People who spiral into deep depression and take their own lives because they can’t take the lies of everyday life. Everything becomes relative, strongmen become leaders, decades of societal progress get sabotaged by a powerful few and most carry on as before. Sorry, Mulder and Scully, there is no alien conspiracy and even if there was, you would never get to solve it, let alone prevent anything from happening. That’s what complicated not-quite-heroes do aka people who discover their conscience contrary to all circumstance. The things you’ve consistently been through already would break any person, no matter how strong. I don’t buy it, even as fiction. Also, none of you is Rocky Balboa.

What Chris Carter has created used to resonate with the times. Back in the 90’s, it really worked. Even re-watching the old episodes kind of works if you let yourself be transported back to that time. There’s a certain vibe about it, even in the inferior episodes. If anything, the new ones are stale, reheated, repackaged versions somehow forced into the current age. The conspiracy news guy is just inches away from being a proper Alex Jones, the Cigarette Smoking Man has degenerated from harrowing character to cartoon villain, there’s zero reason for Monica Reyes to be there at all and the transfer pictures that are Agent Einstein (really?) and her partner are superfluous and forgettable. The one thing I remember being kind of witty is that there’s not a single picture of the current president visible within the FBI offices, when in the original series they clearly were. Also, Skinners comment on the relationship to the White House not being the best right now. But seriously, that’s it for my memorable moments.

If I had to pick a single outstanding episode in this season, I’d say it’s episode 7, called “Rm9sbG93ZXJz”, which is the base64 string for “Followers”. At the end of the opening credits, “VGhlIFRydXRoIGlzIE91dCBUaGVyZQ=” is a base64 string that decodes to “The Truth is Out There”. I’m a nerd, this speaks to me.

The whole episode was a stand-alone dramatization of a decent screenplay that would have worked just as well as a sci-fi short film, without Mulder and Scully. I won’t be watching X-Files (even the old episodes) for a long time. I certainly will not watch any new X-Files episodes should they ever see the light of day. It’s time for Chris Carter to let go, to not milk this franchise until its legacy is completely devastated. The X-Files is a product of its time, it belongs in the 90’s, not in 2018. Gillian Anderson made the right call when she decided not to play Scully again. We’re at the bottom of the hill already but it’s all downhill from here. In this regard Chris Carter’s insistence on continuing is in itself a mirror of the time we live in right now.