Let me clear about one thing: I was buying what the tenth season of the X-Files was selling. For two big reasons.
Before we start: Vague spoilers. Lots of swearing. Not a whole lot of being rational.
One is that the X-Files still, a more than a decade later, manages to touch my terror nerves. Werelizards don’t bother me, but the idea that I’m a powerless cog being moved by a cabal sure does. (Also: bioweapons. Do not even fucking talk to me about bioweapons, I will goddamned cry and hurl all over the place.) So even though it wasn’t always terribly scary, it did often create the creeping unease that makes X-Files fun/scary to watch.
The second, and more important to me, is that Mulder & Scully are basically my ship to end all ships. I have a Big One for every fandom, but if we make a top three of all time, Mulder & Scully probably edge out Han & Leia. (Having both of your iconic couples broken up in the same year1 is fucking torture, by the way. You can have confirmation of this by asking my special dudefriend how many times I cried on the couch during this season, wailing that love is dead. It was too real, X-Files! I wasn’t ready for that!)
Anyway, my point being: I enjoyed this season. And yet I’m still disappointed.
The season suffered from major mood whiplash, as the writers tried to simultaneously capture the softer spirit of the X-Files of yore but also tie up the long-running mythos arc that’s clearly been near and dear to Chris Carter for a while. And I enjoyed both of those things, but it was foolish to try to do all of that in six episodes.
You cannot juxtapose Mulder getting high and going line dancing to the death of Scully’s mother. You cannot give me Mulder & Scully walking in their(?) rural home — while fucking “Ho Hey” plays in the background because Chris Carter wants to actually decimate my heart and scatter the pieces across the whole fucking universe, and am I supposed to think Mulder listens to The Lumineers on the regular? — and then not provide me with at least a quarter-season of emotional follow-through.
I bemoan 22-episode seasons a lot these days. Who has time for that shit? But The X-Files thrived when that was normal and was used to drawing out its emotional jabs to greater effect. You had breathing room. You had processing time. Things had the believability of space. I would have happily2 eaten up 22 episodes of a new X-Files season that had all of the things in this season, better paced and developed. This felt like they laid 22 episodes on the table and said, “Okay, but narrow it down to the crucial six.”
It simply doesn’t work.
In a season with gut punches, punctuated by goofy jokes, we finally got to a finale that had zero effect because so many fucking things had to happen at once. There was no time to linger in the growing terror of it, and I feel so blackmailed by the lack of conclusion. I spent more time dreading how little time we had left — I was utterly pulled out of the show because it was so transparently rushed.
The whole six episodes should have been the emotional resolution of the X-Files while Mulder & Scully coped with everything it cost them, or it should have been the six-episode mini-series that documents how the world ends (or is saved) as Chris Carter has always dreamt within the X-Files universe. It should not have tried to be both because it never truly succeeded at either.
If it was a ploy to prove you could sell more X-Files — and I think it’s pretty fucking clear that’s what it was — then fuck you for the things you’ve done to my feelings on a goddamned gamble.
Now please make some more X-Files post-haste. Our home is currently debating if Baby William is piloting that ship.
(I mean, narrative structure: he has to be, right? But he can’t be, right?)
As an aside: Miller and Einstein are entirely too on-the-nose to be suitable torch-carriers for Mulder & Scully. You cannot remake it, Powers That Be; you surely must have learned that with Doggett and Reyes. This is like watching them try to make Scrubs: Med School happen. It’s never going to happen. Mulder & Scully, as a unit, are the heart of The X-Files. Everyone knows that. IF YOU BREAK THE UNIT YOU BREAK THE X-FILES, THERE WERE WHOLE SEASONS CENTERED ON THAT CONCEPT.
I will grudgingly give it a shot, however, if Mulder & Scully can make it work — because I’m not a wholly rational human — and go off to their rural home together, but not if you just try to write Miller and Einstein as the same. Make them different than their predecessors. Make their struggles and goals unique. They are not, and cannot be, Mulder & Scully 2.0.
Also, Einstein was a terrible name choice. I thought everyone was mocking her every time they said, “Agent Einstein.”
1. Yes, I know that The Force Awakens and the premier of season ten were in different years, but they were weeks apart. They could have been a decade apart and I wouldn’t have dealt any better. And I welcome this world where we see realism in our romance — where untreated mental illness and losing a child break up even our most culturally revered ships — but at the same time NO I CANNOT LIVE LIKE THIS I CANNOT EXIST IN THIS WORLD. (I think I may have literally said that while crying. It’s all sort of a blur.)
2. Okay, I would have complained a little about mid-season finales and obviously unnecessary filler episodes, but The X-Files usually used their filler with effect.