This miniseries (or Season 10) of The X-Files has been divisive to say the least. It’s had stratospheric highs and lows. More than anything, fans are hoping for a sense of closure for Mulder and Scully before Chris Carter issues a detente. I’m not too keen on narrative bookends because it seems too neat and tidy which is why I wish Carter hadn’t began this episode with Scully’s biographical recap of her crisis of faith. It’s a plot device for wrapping a package permanently but everyone has stated that are amenable to further episodes. Therefore, it’s a futile gesture.
The overarching conspiracy that anomalous alien DNA is present in all of mankind is certainly alarming and yet the threat is cresting towards the magnitude problem that Marvel is about to embark on. Global epidemics are too abstract for people to grasp emotionally which is why smaller-scale stakes usually work better on a whole.
I’m glad that Agent Einstein and Miller weren’t just accessories and they are now cooperating participants in the vaccinations (eyes collectively rolled when Scully dusted off the hoary apocalyptic line “This is just the beginning”). In fact, for much of the episode, Einstein is the only rational voice. Is it smallpox? Is it anthrax? The common flu? Micro-radiation? At point, Scully even says “this makes no sense.” The Spartan virus is a MacGuffin for the end game. Maybe it was due to the Fox Network’s incredulity about the show’s viability but the crowd panic only consisted of mild, weekend gridlock. Luckily (or conveniently), Scully could locate Miller and Mulder en route back to headquarters.
Somehow, the black oil as microscopic intruders for alien colonization was more plausibly atrophying because it was supported with categorical answers and scary bargains between the Syndicate and their offspring. Also, why include Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish) just to remind us of the derided 8 and 9 seasons?
I like the notion of a tattered and bruised Mulder on a blood crusade to vindicate his suspicions. Mulder has been in physical altercations before but he’s never been a lethal weapon ala Jason Bourne. Despite the fact that the scene was unnecessary (the other man was a messenger to offer Mulder a deal), the fight was quite visceral. His journey to South Carolina and C.G.B. Spender seemed almost too facilitated. With his tracheotomy and resilience, the insidious Cigarette-Smoking Man was pretty easy for Mulder to find. Having said that, William B. Davis is still a beautifully megalomaniacal presence. He truly believes that he is just accelerating a “timetable” for human self-extermination. His nasal prosthetic is a bit unconvincing though.
In hindsight, Tad O’Malley and A.D. Skinner should’ve been written out of this incarnation because their roles have been nearly nonexistent. To say I’m underwhelmed would be a understatement. With a shortened season, Carter probably felt pressure to be more mythology-centric. He was sorely mistaken. We want the sanguine chemistry between Mulder and Scully. The inscrutable case files. Not circuitous technobabble. Not lectures about planetary pollution and radical Islamic martyrdom. Not a suffocating sequel-bait anticlimax on the bridge which caused my rating to drop even farther. This was a static, joyless cliffhanger when a big-budget third film would’ve sufficed.
Rating: 2. 25 out of 5