Martin Carr reviews the first episode of The X-Files season 10…
Just before we get into this I should make one thing clear. For me The X-Files was never a big deal. Sure it was on the cultural radar and Chris Carter is a name I recognised post 1994. But in terms of drawing me in Duchovny and Anderson had a limited impact. Back then it was all about Tarantino, Rodriguez and Bill Hicks. So it is I take on the responsibility of reviewing this genre defining series without preconceptions. Giving me distance, perspective and ultimately no rose-tinted nostalgia to cloud my judgement.
With episode one then we find our latter-day dynamic duo separated. Mulder unshaven, cloaked in lamplight and surrounded by clippings. A recluse accessible to few and sought by even less. No more than a side note or cautionary tale, spoken about by those who wish to dwell on past glories. While Anderson’s Scully is specialising in reconstructive surgeries, buried in work and applying a rationale which distances her from past events.
What Carter cleverly does in these opening ten minutes is get a new generation up to speed. Using Duchovny in voiceover, we get the bare bones, backstory, duration and underpinning drive behind both characters. For some including me it was a mere refresher. Linking in flashbacks to the 1947 crash landing of a UFO in New Mexico, then cross cutting that with present day. Laying an essential groundwork without unnecessary spoon-feeding.
There have been those who felt this opening episode was a whole lot of nothing much. Joel McHale’s conspiracy geek is a weak plot device, which segues into human embryo harvesting. With no central tenet concreting it in a recognisable reality. I am not saying the episode is bad just not an opener. Mulder and Scully are given little to do. While the red herring lone survivor of numerous alien abductions is nothing new. It feels to a certain extent as if the necessity for backstory leaves no time for actual plot line.
Duchovny and Anderson take a matter of minutes before the old chemistry is back and for that they must be commended. It’s just that as credits roll and the dust settles there is a sense that this X-Files has lost the ‘X-Factor’. Even if that smoking hole in the neck does provide pause for thought. This feels to a certain extent like too little too late. My only hope is that this preliminary precursor has not driven away those fan faithful. Those people for whom The X-Files was everything. Hopefully episode two will provide the much-needed redemption. Only time will tell.