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TV Review: The X-Files - Season 10 Episode 1 "My Struggle"

01.24.2016

Click here for Eric Walkuski's review of this episode from NYCC 2015

Episode 1: "My Struggle"

Synopsis: Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) have been approached by Tad O’Malley (guest star Joel McHale), a popular conspiracy theorist web-TV show host who believes he has uncovered a significant government conspiracy. With the assistance of FBI Asst. Dir. Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi), O’Malley seeks to enlist the help of former X-Files agents Mulder and Scully, who have since severed ties with the FBI. Through O’Malley they are introduced to Sveta (guest star Annett Mahendru), a possible alien abductee who shares shocking information with them that will challenge everything that Mulder has ever believed about the existence of aliens and the government’s role in covering them up.

REVIEW: I have been waiting for the return of The X-Files like many fans were anticipating STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS. As a die hard fan of the series, I have collectibles, magazines, autographs, and more from the initial run of Chris Carter's seminal science fiction series. I am a fan of the films (check out my UnPopular Opinion regarding the second film here) and have been holding out hope that the event series would not only be a return to form for David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson but would also, like THE FORCE AWAKENS, kickstart a new generation of fans into the world of The X-Files. I am glad to see Mulder and Scully back on screen but I have the unfortunate duty to tell you how disappointing this first episode is.

What made The X-Files so special and unique during it's original run was the chemistry between Duchovny and Anderson along with the talented staff of writers who brought stories to life in a way not seen on television since the days of The Twilight Zone. With the first episode of this event series, The X-Files falls prey to rehashing the formula of the original series down to the opening credits and on screen font but failing to reinvent itself for a new generation. Sure, the production values are top notch and Duchovny and Anderson look just as good as they did a decade ago, but this premiere hour feels as if both actors are on cruise control rather than delivering anything close to their top work on the original series.

There are a few issues I have with this episode that prevented me from truly enjoying the return of my favorite FBI agents. Aside from three significant scenes of characters spewing exposition to try and catch us up, there is little regard for the mythology time frame dictated by the series finale. Back in the final episode of the show, December 2012 was stated as the beginning of the alien invasion. Here we are and that date seems to be reduced to a less significant moment in the massive conspiracy, mostly to justify the characters returning to their tried and true roles as investigators. Then, there is the relationship between Mulder and Scully. The romantic side of their partnership was a major factor in the 2008 movie but their romance seems to be over. I can buy that, but there is a lot of effort made to try and sell chemistry between Joel McHale's character and Dana Scully as well as potential heat between Annett Mahendru's possible abductee, Sveta, and Mulder. It feels very forced.

While Mahendru is a nice addition to the cast, Joel McHale feels incredibly miscast as a fellow conspiracy theorist. I kept waiting for him to be the funny McHale we are all used to but he plays it straight which just doesn't work for his delivery of the dialogue. Even a lot of the typical X-Files mumbo jumbo that David Duchovny has spouted over the years as Fox Mulder comes across as very labored in this episode. Sadly, everyone just feels very tired. It makes me wonder if the series would have been better served to have focused on two brand new agents working these paranormal cases with Mulder and Scully serving as the older generation guiding these rookies to the truth that is still out there. You know, kind of like how J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan did with THE FORCE AWAKENS?

There is also a series of flashbacks that are peppered through the hour which don't have much explanation to them. Historically, The X-Files has handled flashbacks better than this. The editing of this hour leaves it very hard to keep track of what time period we are in and why we are even seeing this historical footage to begin with. As the premiere comes to a close, we are also given a glimpse of the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B Davis), who was something of the Darth Vader of The X-Files. The villain was seemingly killed in the original run's series finale and his appearance here is unexplained and confusing, especially if you just binge-watched the original show. Again, I am sure things will be explained in coming episodes, but it feels very much like Chris Carter tried to throw everything but the kitchen sink into this premiere when he really didn't need to.

Don't get me wrong here: I am still incredibly excited to see Mulder and Scully back together on screen. With the way FOX has been hyping the return of The X-Files, I was expecting a lot more out of this premiere that what we got. While it does feel like the series never left, with such a large gap in between season nine and this tenth season, there should have been a lot more exploration to what these characters have been doing in the interim. It is very possible that the next five episodes will explore that more in depth which is probably why the network decided to air a second episode tomorrow night rather than waiting a full week for viewers to let this first hour sink in. I am glad to see The X-Files is back, but if the next five episodes don't kick things up a bit, this may be another revivial of a series that should have been left alone.

Next on The X-Files: "Founder's Mutation" airs January 25th - When a scientist suddenly commits suicide, Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) investigate what unseen force may have driven him to it. What they uncover is a laboratory where extreme genetic experimentation has been going on for decades, breeding subjects who possess unexpected and dangerous powers – and who harbor deep resentments.
Source: JoBlo.com

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3:38AM on 01/29/2016
Let me see if I've got this straight.

1) There are people working within the FBI working to destabilize the world in an effort to create terror and to take over the world.
2) These people have access to alien technology.
3) These people are using their advanced technology to build flying fortresses and create enhanced people with powers.
Time to contact Captain America!
PS: Hail Hydra!
Let me see if I've got this straight.

1) There are people working within the FBI working to destabilize the world in an effort to create terror and to take over the world.
2) These people have access to alien technology.
3) These people are using their advanced technology to build flying fortresses and create enhanced people with powers.
Time to contact Captain America!
PS: Hail Hydra!
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1:35AM on 01/26/2016

Fantastic...

This episode gave me everything I was hoping for and more... 6/10 on the review above?! Are you kidding me?! What a fantastic re-launch into The X-Files! This was classic X-Files at its best! Totally stoked...
This episode gave me everything I was hoping for and more... 6/10 on the review above?! Are you kidding me?! What a fantastic re-launch into The X-Files! This was classic X-Files at its best! Totally stoked...
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2:15PM on 01/25/2016

I still believe

I'm as die hard a fan of the original tv series as there is - it was literally a transformative series for me personally, shaping what I like and don't like from everything that came after it. I am a little more positive on the first episode of the continuation than the above review. Firstly, I agree that there was a lot of mind numbing exposition in this episode, that unfortunately fell squarely on Duchovny's shoulders, and subsequently didn't leave a lot of time for his trademark deadpan
I'm as die hard a fan of the original tv series as there is - it was literally a transformative series for me personally, shaping what I like and don't like from everything that came after it. I am a little more positive on the first episode of the continuation than the above review. Firstly, I agree that there was a lot of mind numbing exposition in this episode, that unfortunately fell squarely on Duchovny's shoulders, and subsequently didn't leave a lot of time for his trademark deadpan comedy - but i expect that to change going forward. As a die hard fan, and one that binge watched the series leading up to this, I understand the reviewer's frustration, but I also understand Carter's (and probably moreso the Fox network's) need to try and catch everyone up on both the show, and what has happened since the show, while setting everything up for the next 5 episodes. The result is unfortunately something that is filled with exposition dumps and also feels a bit rushed. It sucks, but I recognize that it was almost unavoidable if they are trying to make this show watchable for fans and newbies, so I give them somewhat of a pass.

I disagree with the reviewer's characterization of the performances though - I thought Duchovny and particularly (as usual) Anderson were great. There were a decent amount of small moments and telling one liners that give us all a hint as to what has happened between the two of them since we last saw them, enough to make me anticipate seeing and hearing more.

I think that we'll get more of what made the x-files so great in the episodes to come, particularly the stand alones, which - for me - were what made the show so great in the first place. 8 of my 10 favorite episodes ever are probably not conspiracy related. I can't wait, specifically, for the Darin Morgan penned episode.

All in all - the premiere gets a 8 out of 10 for me.
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12:11PM on 01/25/2016
If I have never watched The X-Files would I be able to jump in with this season or should I start from the beginning?
If I have never watched The X-Files would I be able to jump in with this season or should I start from the beginning?
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12:26PM on 01/25/2016
The episode opens with a quick recap of the first nine seasons. There are specifics that will likely go over your head but it is designed for new viewers to be able to jump in with no prior viewing. I would recommend starting from the beginning as The X-Files is one of the best shows of all time.
The episode opens with a quick recap of the first nine seasons. There are specifics that will likely go over your head but it is designed for new viewers to be able to jump in with no prior viewing. I would recommend starting from the beginning as The X-Files is one of the best shows of all time.
3:34PM on 01/25/2016
Awesome thanks.
Awesome thanks.
11:44AM on 01/25/2016

8/10

I enjoyed the hell out of it. It felt like classic X-Files. Maybe not one of the very best, but it certainly lives up to the X-Files name.
I enjoyed the hell out of it. It felt like classic X-Files. Maybe not one of the very best, but it certainly lives up to the X-Files name.
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11:27AM on 01/25/2016

Rushed

It was alright; just incredibility rushed. The overall story in the first episode is something that would have been doled out in pieces over several episodes or a full season back when the show was in its prime. Keep in mind an average season when it was on the air was 24- 25 episodes. They are trying to cram in a full season into just 6 episodes.
It was alright; just incredibility rushed. The overall story in the first episode is something that would have been doled out in pieces over several episodes or a full season back when the show was in its prime. Keep in mind an average season when it was on the air was 24- 25 episodes. They are trying to cram in a full season into just 6 episodes.
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9:23AM on 01/25/2016
You pretty much nailed my feelings on the show. Sinc eI didn't watch the 2008 movie, the whole idea of them having been in a romantic relationship, and Scully having a baby, took me by surprise. On the upside something I've never faulted the X-Files for is making me ask questions, so long as I trusted they would answer them down the line.
You pretty much nailed my feelings on the show. Sinc eI didn't watch the 2008 movie, the whole idea of them having been in a romantic relationship, and Scully having a baby, took me by surprise. On the upside something I've never faulted the X-Files for is making me ask questions, so long as I trusted they would answer them down the line.
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12:25PM on 01/25/2016
Mulder and Scully having a baby happened back in Season 8 and 9 of the series.
Mulder and Scully having a baby happened back in Season 8 and 9 of the series.
10:01AM on 01/26/2016
Full disclosure, I stopped watching when David Duchovny left, only to tune back in for the 2-hour series finale. So I am very lost in that case.
Full disclosure, I stopped watching when David Duchovny left, only to tune back in for the 2-hour series finale. So I am very lost in that case.
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