My Struggle III
The Lost Art Of Forehead Sweat
Nothing Lasts Forever
My Struggle IV
Few shows have had such a lasting impact like The X-Files. From its origins back in the early 90s to its tumultuous and tonally confused reboot 2 years ago, there’s no denying that The X-Files has had a crazy ride during its run time. Now in its 11th season, X-Files returns and picks up where it left off at the end of last season with the convoluted, tired conspiracy plot before jumping back into more familiar monster-of-the-week episodes. There’s glimmers of a bygone era here; a cocktail of horror, humour and supernatural spookiness but there’s just not enough originality in the writing to really get the feel that X-Files is on the cutting edge of this genre like it used to be.
Spread across 10 episodes, the story picks up where it left off at the end of My Struggle II with Scully (Gillian Anderson) in critical condition and Mulder (David Duchovny) frantically searching for answers. All the while with the conspiracy theory around an alien plague forever growing more complicated and convoluted as it tries to encapsulate everything from the show’s complicated history. Nestled between the two over-arching world-ending episodes are 8 interestingly depicted monster of the week episodes that vary in quality and tone. There’s a much better variety of stories this year ranging from dread-inducing smiling puppets to telepathic twins and everything in between giving a good range of material for Mulder and Scully to work with.
Despite the interesting and tonally different episodes this year, X-Files borrows heavily from other influences for some of its plots, reinforcing the niggling feeling of a lack of originality this year. Rm9sbG93ZXJz feels ripped straight from the Black Mirror archive and The Lost Art Of Forehead Sweat is the comedic anchor but borrows heavily from classic episode Jose Chung’s From Outta Space.
X-Files lacks the atmosphere and dynamic between the actors it once had and it’s an issue that’s haunted the show for quite some time. After everything Scully has witnessed after all these years her place as a sceptic feels out of place and awkward (especially given the one season where she plays a believer) rather than a justifiable counterpart to Mulder’s emotionally charged hunches. Despite this, the two work well together and their deep rooted relationship and love for one another is clear to see throughout the episodes. Assistant Director Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) has a more prominent role this year too and the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davies) makes his compulsory appearance too.
So while the 11th season of X-Files is certainly an improvement over last year, the tiresome, convoluted conspiracy plot weighs heavily on the overall quality of the show. Some of the episodic plots rely heavily on storytelling techniques found elsewhere; shows like Black Mirror and The Twilight Zone have clear influences this year. As a throwback to the heyday of this wildly popular cult show from the 90s, X-Files does do an okay job of emulating some of the allure the show once had but with Gillian Anderson announcing she’ll be leaving the show at the end of this season, this is probably one show that’s probably best left alone for now.