The Truth is Still Out There

February 28, 2016 at 9:36 PM | Posted in Fandom, Geekdom, TV | Leave a comment
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So X-philes from most parts of the world just witnessed the final episode of season 10 of The X-Files. While some fans felt The X-Files revival was unsatisfying, most are actually satisfied with the way it turned out. Ratings wise, The X-Files revival was a hit. It still garnered around 20 million viewers in the US from the season premiere.  And the final episode drew in about 7.6 million viewers in US alone.

I previously wrote reviews of the first three episodes of season 10. This time I’ve written reviews of the last three episodes. Here they are:

Episode 4: Home Again

X-Files_HomeAgain

This was a Scully-centric episode that dealt with the death of Scully’s mother and how she coped with it. I saw two sides of Scully in this episode – the vulnerable and emotional Scully who desperately wanted to keep her mother alive, and the strong, rational one who wanted to catch a criminal. That emotional side of Scully was intensified with her strong feeling of guilt about William, the son she had with Mulder who they gave up for adoption. Underlying this episode was a story about a mysterious figure killing people who treated the homeless like they’re disposable things, easily discarded and forgotten.

Mulder & Scully with flashlights_HomeAgain

I admit I didn’t know what to make of this story the first time I saw it. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t like it either. While Gillian Anderson’s emotional performance was commendable, I didn’t feel any connection with how she was feeling when her mother died while I was watching it. Maybe because it was so long ago when I last saw Scully’s mother and couldn’t remember the final episode where she was in. For me, it wasn’t as compelling and emotionally raw as the “Memento Mori” episode from season 4.  I just think it was kind of off that Mulder and Scully could still tease each other during an investigation given the circumstances about her mother. Yeah sure, the flashlight scenes were cute and awesome but the story about an artwork coming alive to kill people just didn’t do well for me. It sort of reminded me of that “Arcadia” episode.  It’s not really new.  It didn’t creep me out like the “Founder’s Mutation” episode did.

Episode 5: Babylon

Terrorism and racism are such serious matters and this episode’s attempt to fuel a discussion about these two social issues was a complete failure. “Babylon” was a story about an FBI investigation of a recent bombing of an art gallery by two young Muslim men. Two new FBI agents who resembled the younger versions of Mulder and Scully were called in to investigate the case. Agent Miller – like Mulder, was a believer of the supernatural and the paranormal while Agent Einstein – a medical doctor just like Scully, was a sceptic. The two young agents sought the help of Mulder and Scully during the investigation. One of the men who bombed the art gallery survived and was in a coma. Mulder and Miller believed that they could still communicate with the comatose terrorist by supernatural means to find out details of another bomb plot by Muslim extremists.

X-Files_Babylon

Written by Chris Carter, this episode was riddled with problems right from the first scene. I remember feeling dreadful when I watch the first few scenes. The minute they showed a young Muslim man praying shortly before bombing the art gallery, I knew this episode was in trouble. It’s another attempt to stereotype Muslims. I know Carter deliberately wrote this to show us the ugly side of terrorism and racism and maybe spark a debate but it just fell flat for me. I could understand why some Muslims felt offended by the episode. And for me, the episode hit closer to home. The scene where a nurse said to Agent Einstein how immigrants were stealing American jobs and healthcare almost mirrored the words that my aunt heard when she first immigrated to the US. She experienced racism in the US firsthand. It was terrible. And the way that nurse in the episode said it, it was so hateful that I was offended.

These serious issues presented in the episode would have worked if it weren’t for the fact that Carter added humor to it by piecing together a sub-story about Mulder getting high on “magic mushrooms” (which turned out to be a placebo) to try to communicate with the comatose patient in another realm. I actually winced when they showed Mulder going to a Texas bar and dancing to Achy, Breaky Heart. And that 50 Shades joke was awful. Not even the appearance of The Lone Gunmen could make this episode better. The only scenes I liked in this episode were the ones with Mulder and Scully walking along outside Mulder’s house at the end. That was a shippy moment.

Mulder & Scully in Babylon ep_s10

But what was that about witnesses hearing trumpets from the sky? That wasn’t included in the investigation anymore. It was all but forgotten by the agents.

“Babylon” had the potential to be great if it was split into two stories – one episode dealing about terrorism and racism, and a separate funny episode where Mulder can go high and dance all he wants from the magic mushrooms.

Episode 6: My Struggle II

This episode was slightly better that its first part, although there were still loopholes in it. For the most part, “My Struggle II” focused on Scully and Agent Einstein figuring out how to stop the Spartan virus that was quickly spreading all over various cities. Mulder, on the other hand, spent his time tracking down the Cigarette Smoking Man – the one responsible for the spread of the virus – and trying to convince him to stop the outbreak. The twist of this episode was that there was no alien invasion that happened in 2012, only the discreet and massive dissemination of the Spartan virus through anthrax injection years ago. Scully’s alien DNA turned out to be the one solution they needed to kill the virus. Replicate her alien DNA and administer that to the sick patients and they would save so many lives.

Mulder & CSM_MyStruggle2_X-Files

While I was admittedly at the edge of my seat while watching the episode, I couldn’t help but still feel frustrated by it. Mulder and Scully spent most of the episode apart when they could have solved the outbreak together. And I was disappointed that Agent Monica Reyes appeared in the episode only to reveal that she was conniving with the Cigarette Smoking Man. She could have refused CSM’s offer and sought the assistance of Assistant Director Skinner. But no, she went ahead and made a deal with CSM to save herself.

And I still couldn’t believe that everyone seemed to believe Tad O’Malley’s every word. He’s a well-known conspiracy theorist that some people might not even consider legit. Are we supposed to believe that people accept his words as truth instead of other authorities or prominent newscasters? Where was the FBI in all of this? Skinner should be in most of the scenes there along with people from the CDC.

x-files_my struggle II

The ending was so abrupt and deliberate that you could tell that Chris Carter intended it that way so people would want another season to find out what happened in the story. I was also confused with that ending. Was that really an alien ship that hovered over Scully and Agent Miller or was that a man-made aircraft built in alien technology? We would never know for sure until the showrunners tell us there is a continuation of the story in season 11.

While there are fans who want Chris Carter out of season 11, I wouldn’t mind him being there for season 11 as a director or executive producer. I mean, he created the show in the first place. He created Mulder and Scully and I am forever grateful for that. He just has to come up with better storylines about the mythology. Season 10 is far from perfect. But overall I enjoyed it. And as fans, we should be thankful that Carter, Fox and the cast and crew gave us season 10 in the first place. I, for one, would still love to have season 11.

The X-Files Redux

February 15, 2016 at 10:17 PM | Posted in Geekdom, TV | Leave a comment
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The X-Files revival

The return of The X-Files on the small screen brought back my obsession with this show since the series ended in 2002, and since its second movie, I Want to Believe came out in 2008. Like many X-philes around the world, I anxiously anticipated its season premiere last January 24. Luckily for us Filipino fans, we got to watch the new season on cable via Fox Channel Philippines the same day as it aired in the US.

Suffice to say, I had mixed feelings about the first three episodes. The first time I watched each of these episodes, it left me with questions and feeling wanting more. Thus, I decided to watch all the three episodes again before I make a proper review of each. Here’s my take:

Episode 1: My Struggle

I didn’t like this episode. The general feeling I had about “My Struggle” was that it felt contrite. I had a feeling that Chris Carter – who wrote and directed the episode, wanted to build up excitement among the fans about the series’ mythology arc by putting practically all conspiracy theories involving alien abductions and government cover-ups in one episode. The narrations were too long. What could have been explained by Mulder in a couple of sentences were dragged out and narrated in a long, unnecessary dialogue. Carter even crammed the show’s two popular slogans in one dialogue.

 “I want to believe!” “The truth is out there!” These words were exchanged between Mulder and Scully during a scene where they were arguing.

Scully & Mulder_My Struggle

To me, this episode was just a general introduction to the newbie fans about the world of The X-Files. Nothing was really new except that Mulder and Scully weren’t together anymore. Yeah, apparently they broke up sometime after the movie, I Want to Believe. Bummer! Anyway, I deviate…

I wasn’t impressed by the supposedly shocking revelation in this episode. The plot twist being that it was a conspiracy of men all along. Men from a shadowy government used alien technology derived from the UFO crash in Roswell in the 1940’s and abducted innocent victims to experiment on them. There were no alien abductions after all. It’s all just a government cover-up.

Also, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson weren’t their best in this episode. I found their performance to be lacking in depth. But perhaps that’s because they’re still adjusting and settling in into their old characters?

Episode 2: Founder’s Mutation

This second episode was better. It felt like the old X-Files I knew and loved. “Founder’s Mutation” was a monster-of-the-week episode about a doctor doing questionable experiments on children and a teenaged boy with strange powers. It’s creepy enough, but not in the traditional sense of the word. I loved that Mulder and Scully were like their old selves again in this episode. I think David and Gillian felt more at ease with their old roles here.

Founder's Mutation_X-Files

In this episode, Mulder and Scully were back working at the FBI under the X-Files unit with Assistant Director Walter Skinner still as their boss. The fact that this wasn’t supposed to be the second episode from the lineup could explain why there were no mentions in the story about how Mulder and Scully were reinstated in the FBI. But I still have questions about this episode. Firstly, were there any objections from the other powers that be in the FBI about Mulder and Scully’s reinstatement? Where was FBI Deputy Director Alvin Kersh? Correct me if I’m wrong but as far as I could remember, weren’t there supposed to be Super Soldiers masquerading as agents within the walls of the FBI? What happened to them? I guess these questions might be answered in the upcoming final episode, “My Struggle II” which is a return to the mythology arc.

Anyway, this episode also touched upon the sensitive subject of William – Mulder and Scully’s son who was given up for adoption in season 9 to keep him safe from the people who wished him harm. Both Mulder and Scully imagined what life might have been for them if they didn’t give up William. The scenes were sweet and touching. I’m glad that Chris Carter and the writers decided to address this issue since after season 9 ended.

Episode 3: Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster

I’ve always loved the comedic episodes of The X-Files (“Small Potatoes” being one of my favorite funny episodes). It brought balance to the show, which was a refreshing break away from some of the heavy drama and scary stuff that the show was known for.

Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster

Such was the case with the third episode, “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster.” It’s  campy on purpose and hilarious as hell! Darin Morgan, known for the funny and quirky episodes he’s written for the show, wrote this episode. I loved this episode for its witty dialogue and fun twist to the age-old story of a man turning into a werewolf during full moon. But this time, it wasn’t a werewolf but a were-lizard. Also, I just loved the banter between Mulder and Scully in this episode. It reminded me a lot of “Bad Blood.”

Rhys Darby, who played the were-monster/lizard, was superb in this episode. The delivery of his punchlines was exceptional. He was funny, lovable and endearing. Kumail Nanjiani, who played the animal control officer, was just as good. His facial expressions were priceless. And who could forget Scully in this episode being all flirty and stuff? That scene was hilarious! Also that scene with Mulder being clueless about his camera app was too cute and funny!

This is how I like my Mulder

There were a lot of funny scenes in this episode, but what fans probably loved the most were the Easter eggs scattered all throughout the episode. They were a tribute indeed to the X-philes – the fans who stayed loyal even after the series ended. I, for one, belong to that group.

I am enjoying The X-Files revival so far, and there are only two episodes left before season 10 comes to an end. I will be reviewing the three final episodes of the show next time. Here’s hoping that the show will still return for another season. I want to believe!

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